Cow stem cell fraudsters sent to jail for almost killing human patients: some patients still support them

Two women in San Diego County are heading to jail after being convicted and sentenced for fraud related to stem cell treatments.The women injected concoctions of bovine stem cells from Germany and DMSO into patients. You can read the details of the original arrest here on the FBI websiteKathleen Ann HelmsAccording to a Modesto Bee article, Kathleen Ann Helms (aka Catherine Bright-Helms) pictured at right (photo from of Encinitas, CA will spend 18 months in jail and have 18 months of supervised release.
The article says:

City News Service says a judge told 57-year-old Kathleen Ann Helms that she endangered people’s lives and nearly killed two.

Helms pretended to be a doctor and treated patients as such. Helms’ nurse, Jacqueline Smith, who pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license, will spend a year in jail.

Remarkably, despite the fraud and dangers treatments, some patients still support Helms.

A piece says:

“There are as many of us who really believe she saved us and sent us on the right path to being able to someday get rid of this bad disease,” said Fallbrook resident Franzie Epperson. “I’m just very supportive of her. We feel like she saved our lives.”

I find it astounding how some patients will support fraudulent stem cell practitioners who break the law and take large sums of money from them. I just don’t get it.

The News10 piece goes on to report:

Helms was charged in connection with the treatment of four patients along with a fifth uncharged victim. 

According to an affidavit filed in the case, Helms diagnosed a patient with the inflammatory illness after looking at a sample of blood under a microscope, then prescribed a treatment plan that included shots of bovine stem cells from Germany.

Helms directed the patient to go to a Tijuana hospital to have a peripherally inserted central line put into one of her arms so Helms could give treatments intravenously. The patient agreed to pay $300 for the insertion of the line and $30,000 for the treatment Helms recommended, according to the affidavit.

Another patient was misdiagnosed by Helms as having Lyme Disease when he really had prostate cancer, illustrating just reckless and dangers this situation was.

The criminal case began after patients complained to the California State Medical Board.

Meanwhile, other readers of this blog, what can we do?

Stem cell community folks (scientists, patients, advocates, families, etc), if you believe someone might be breaking the law or endangering people (including you) via stem cells, I urge you to contact the FBI tip line here as well as your state medical board.

Take a step to help other people avoid being victims.


5 thoughts on “Cow stem cell fraudsters sent to jail for almost killing human patients: some patients still support them

  1. I do find it shocking that people still support them, especially since clients (I cannot in good conscience call the people seeking injections patients, as that implies a medical relationship) nearly died. When is too far?

  2. I have contacted the FBI before, Sadly, nothing was done about the “doctor” I reported. He was not a medical doctor and yet led others to believe he was. He also took patients to Tijuana. Patients need to do their homework. You can easily check on the status of a doctor’s license here in the U.S.and complain to the medical board which is the key here. That’s why I support autologous stem cell therapy as the practice of medicine as patients do have recourse.
    There will always be fraudsters. I don’t know of any patients however that would support treatment by someone that is not a physician and I deal with a lot of patients. The desperately ill are easy prey. It’s precisely why we need to make treatment available to patients in the U.S. The current regulatory system is failing them causing more harm than good in my opinion.

  3. Paul, could you suggest specific areas and ways people can report cell fraud? It would be a wonderful service and the FDA could then target serious health threats in this industry first.

    Patients I have seen after cell fraud reporting experienced the same issues as Barbara, These people were really hurt not just didnt get better ot thought they could get their money back. They did not care about the money, they were scared. They report the FDA is not user friendly and makes them feel like it is their fault and their is nothing they can do. The medical board acts after public outrage and death. ( They are told it is the practice of medicine)

    Basically the injured are told file a civil suit. Which is like saying kiss your savings goodbye, get mischaracterised and forget about going on with your life. The most serious stem celling offender sadly had a history of healthcare and research misconduct in multiple countries , injected cells into a minor for a learning disability and still practices with no repercussions .

    Maybe if there were real and immediate severe consequences for disregarding FDA regulations this would serve to inhibit this practice and resources could be allocated for finding a financially feasable, safe and accelerated direction for the road between science and practical application.

  4. Paul,
    I don’t find it remarkable that some “victims/patients” continued to support their “non-doctor”. Historically, there has always been a faith-based aspect to medicine. Sadly, “belief in the incredible” is common place. The FDA and FBI won’t fix that!

    Here we have a bogus treatment for Lymes disease in people. I get my dog vaccinated but there is no such protection for me… Why? Again, it comes down to unsubstantiated “belief”. There was a vaccine but a bunch of people “believed” that the vaccine caused autoimmune diseases.
    And that was the end of that…

  5. Pingback: Setting the record straight on stem cell tourism; Foundation sponsors diabetes community forum; and an update on our first researcher

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