This week I went to go meet with Joseph Purita in Boca Raton, a M.D. who is pioneer in the field of orthopedic surgery since 1981 and uses stem cell therapy in his work. It’s cutting edge stuff. As I sat in the waiting room at The Institute of Regenerative and Molecular Orthopedics and looked at the framed photographs with long biographies and achievements of the various doctors, it dawned on me that this is serious business, reinvigorating people’s lives. The patients that surrounded me were mostly elderly, waiting to be treated with the latest medical procedures to reinstate their mobility and thus their youth. Once in awhile there would be the odd young, athletic man who would wander in and would be seen rather quickly, alerting me to the fact that their careers might depend on what happened behind those closed doors.
When I finally got to meet with Purita, he told me that he had been caught up in a procedure that would give mobility to a man in his early twenties who felt the difference almost immediately, these are particular life altering instances that makes Purita’s job worthwhile. Having only basic knowledge about stem cells, I dived into asking Purita some questions to gain more knowledge on how it all worked, the benefits, the exciting new developments and yes, the controversy of using embryonic stem cells. I was reassured that using stem cells from embryos wasn't as effective as the stem cells that come from the individual patient, which is what Dr. Purita uses in his practice. Bio-diversity is key and there isn’t going to be anything more compatible with you than your own DNA. There is also the concern of disease that might be genetically present in a embryo’s DNA which could be expressed in the individual receiving the embryonic stem cells.
So, what exactly are stem cells? These are essential cells that are the body’s raw materials and are unique in the fact that they can develop into different types of cells that the body may need in order to repair itself, promoting self-renewal. There are two broad classifications, the first is embryonic stem cells that can from a 3-5 day old embryo which is called a blastocyst and can create every tissue in the human body. The second one is adult stem cells which are found in small quantities in blood, fat and bone marrow. Purita tells me that stem cells are the future, that their abilities to heal the human body is a continuous discovery that will shape our future. He predicts that stem cells contain the answer to most major chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer. May this be the holy grail of health and longevity? Only time will tell but it’s an exciting prospect.
In Purita’s work as an orthopedic physician stem cells have enabled him to offer his patients a non-surgical option of treating common degenerative physical conditions ranging from hip replacements to arthritis. This also benefits individuals whose careers depend on their physical strength and vitality such a major league athletes who may sustain injuries on the job. This is obviously a great benefit and advantage to athletes because stem cells can mean that recovery from injury has the possibility to be greatly shorten from, sometimes, months to just days. Purita is of course all hush-hush on any big stars in sports who might be taking this advantage and I don’t dare ask, partly from not wanting to be too nosy but mainly because I probably wouldn't know who he was talking about as I am not a major sport’s fan.
Before getting to ask him anymore questions, the phone rings and they want him downstairs, a patient is prepped and awaiting treatment. Purita asks me if I want to accompany him and watch, something I didn't expect and before I know it, I am following him down sterile, shiny hallways. His patient is lady in her fifties with a bad knee, she looks worried and I can see why when the nurse hands Puritia three big syringes with long needles. Purita is a pro at keeping her and everyone in the room at ease with his steady, assured movements as he hones in on her swollen knee, carefully injecting her own stem cells and jokes to keep the procedure quick. I am introduced to his two assistants, one them who enthusiastically explains the procedure to me and show me the equipment involved. I was most curious about how they extracted bone marrow because this to me seemed like it would be the most tricky and painful. The bone marrow is extracted from the back of the pelvis with a device that looks like a thick needle with a handle that they tap into the bone, patients have reported back that they hardly felt anything. Apparently, removing fat, normally from a person’s midsection is slightly more uncomfortable. A normal routine would be collecting a patient’s blood, fat, bone marrow and putting them all into a machine called a centrifugal which spins each individual specimen at a high rate, it separates the platelets and stem cells and essentially concentrates them. These then get injected into the ailing area and the whole procedure is done within the day, though the patient returns 4-6 weeks after to check on progress and might require more treatment. This procedure has a success rate of 80% Purita tells me, it doesn't work with everyone, depending on how your body reacts and works with the stem cells.
After Purita finishes another procedure on a patient’s ankle he tells me about his busy schedule ahead lecturing about stem cells at medical schools and institutions around the world including anti-aging medicine conferences. He next due in Australia to talk at the Australian Asian Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Melbourne and before the year is out he is set to lecture in big cities like Venice, Dubai, Beirut and Manila. Purita is well sought out for in his field and also trains doctors from around the globe in stem cell procedures. Before we know it, he is beckoned to go upstairs again to consult with another patient and I leave Purita’s offices feeling optimistic for the future of healthcare, knowing that the answer and the tools for our health with the help of science are literally at the core of each and every one of us.
For more information contact Dr. Purita:
The Institute of Regenerative and Molecular Orthopaedics
Oaks Medical Plaza
660 Glades Rd
Boca Raton, FL 33431