Doctor Claims Controversial Stem Cell Treatment Works
May 7, 2007 (KABC-TV) (KABC) -- Is it a scientific breakthrough, or stem cell scam? A Malibu doctor claims to be saving lives with a treatment the FDA says is illegal in the United States.
Dr. William Rader gets around the stem cell ban by sending patients to his clinic in the Dominican Republic. A psychiatrist by training, Dr. Rader gets the stem cells in Eastern Europe, from fetuses aborted between eight-and-12-weeks. He charges $25,000 for the first injection.
ONLINE VIDEO EXTRA: Dr. Rader claims to have a cure for AIDS. Watch the video clip in the player to the right.
Dr. Rader may be a familiar face if you're a longtime viewer of Eyewitness News. He worked at ABC7 as an on-air psychiatrist for more than a decade, beginning in the late '70s.
Now he runs Medra, Inc out of his Malibu home, and says his stem cell injections are helping patients with a long list of diseases from Alzheimer's to AIDS, diabetes, epilepsy, and even cancer.
Dr. William Rader, Medra, Inc.: "There's no one else in the world who knows what I know ... I'm the only one doing this. One mind."
Dr. William Rader claims to be years, if not decades, ahead of every other scientist in the United States.
Dr. William Rader: "All of the researchers are using the wrong cells. And in this country, they're up to mice."
Rader says he's treated more than 1,000 human patients with fetal stem cells, many of them children, like Clayton Fatheree.
From the moment Clayton came into the world, he appeared to be a perfect baby. But the smiling, happy, bundle of joy soon disappeared.
Azita Fatheree, mother: "His body was shaking, his eyes were rolling back. He was having over 100 seizures a day."
Seizures that were at one point non-stop and around-the-clock.
George Fatheree, father: "Literally up all night, just begging and negotiating with God to give your child five or 10 minutes of uninterrupted sleep."
Clayton began to lose weight. He forgot how to swallow and his only nourishment came from an eye-dropper. He lost the ability to hold up his head, and soon stopped making any sounds.
Azita Fatheree: "He didn't know how to smile or laugh and he didn't know how to cry."
Clayton was eventually diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut, one of the most severe forms of epilepsy.
George Fatheree: "He basically lived in a vegetative state. "
Clayton's parents tried everything, from 11 neurologists to 13 anti-convulsant medications, but nothing helped.
That's when they turned to Dr. William Rader, and his stem cell clinic in the Dominican Republic.
Dr. William Rader: "Clayton would have died in two months. That's what his doctor said."
Clayton had his first stem cell injection in the summer of 2004.
Dr. William Rader: "The cells that we use come from a fetus, and that's eight-to-12-weeks of age."
Dr. Rader says his stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can give rise to any other type of cell in the body. Once injected, Dr. Rader says the cells know exactly where to go and what to do, all on their own.
Dr. William Rader: "I'm not telling a cell where to go, because I have no clue where it should go. This is nature, God's work. whatever you want to call it."
Dr. Evan Snyder, Stem Cell Researcher: "That's not a therapy, that's snake oil."
Dr. Snyder of the Burnham Institute in La Jolla is a pediatric neurologist and renowned stem cell scientist.
Dr. Evan Snyder: "What you don't want to do is just indiscriminately take cells and just throw them in there and hope for the best."
Dr. Snyder says it's possible something in the injections could somehow be helpful, so he offered to examine and test Dr. Rader's stem cells. Dr. Rader declined.
Dr. William Rader: "Of course I wouldn't let him look at my cells. Would you let the fox guard the chicken coop?"
Dr. Evan Snyder "The fact that Rader declined to do this told me that he really is a fraud and a scam artist."
It's criticism that doesn't phase Dr. Rader.
Dr. William Rader: "I know who I am, I'm a good boy. I'm little Billy Rader. I am a good boy."
But Dr. Rader's critics also include a Santa Barbara family.
Fia Richmond, mother of disabled child: "Horrifying, traumatic, I mean it was a nightmare."
Richmond's son Palmer is severely disabled, unable to walk, talk or feed himself.
Fia Richmond: "Palmer had four surgeries before he was a year old. He spent the first six months of his life in the hospital, so it was devastating."
Richmond and her husband tried everything the U.S. medical establishment had to offer, before turning to Dr. Rader's stem cell clinic.
Fia Richmond: "You're rendered helpless, and desperate, I mean it's hard. You know, I had visions of Palmer walking, I had visions of Palmer feeding himself, I had visions of Palmer catching up. So we dug deep into the pocketbook. It was $25,000."
$25,000 for one round of fetal stem cell injections at Dr. Rader's clinic. And what were the results?
Fia Richmond: "For our situation, I have to say it wasn't pretty."
She says Palmer's seizures had dropped off in the months before Rader's treatment, but after?
Fia Richmond: "By the time I got home he was seizing terribly."
And she says the higher level of seizures continued for several months.
Dr. Rader says his cells are carefully screened at two labs. But patients like Richmond point out there's no certification, and no telling what's really in those injections.
Fia Richmond: "So I really don't know what Palmer got and that's a frightening thing."
We asked Dr. Rader why doesn't he share what he's learned, why doesn't he do controlled, scientific studies where some patients get a placebo?
Dr. William Rader: "What happens if it's your child who's going to get the saline? Is that all right? To me, that would be tantamount to me murdering that child."
Richmond meanwhile has turned her attention to supporting stem cell research here in the United States. She founded the Children's Neurobiological Solutions Foundation.
Fia Richmond: "And we've funded nearly a million dollars in stem cell biology. There's so much promise that we could change lives forever."
Lives like that of her son Palmer -- still undiagnosed at age 11.
Fia Richmond: "My hope and dream is that we can actually get into his brain and fix it."
But the Fatheree family in Pasadena tells a much different story. They say Dr. Rader's stem cells changed Clayton's life.
Azita Fatheree: "We put him in a walker and he actually started taking steps in his walker".
Clayton regained strength, started eating and walking, and these days he's smiling and laughing.
George Fatheree: "We had not heard Clayton's happy voice, at this point, in close to two years. "
Azita is such a believer, she's now working part-time for Dr. Rader answering questions from other parents.
Azita Fatheree: "Never will I take it for granted that my child can smile."
Most importantly, Clayton has not had a seizure in two years. All the more reason Dr. Rader says he won't be stopped.
Dr. William Rader: "So the FDA has no control over what I'm doing. And if they took my license, take it. Give me Clayton, take the license, I don't care."
Clayton's giggle is proof enough for Azita and George that something in the stem cells has healed their child.
Azita Fatheree: "This is one child who now is seizure-free, and is able and is happy. And that might be someone else's child as well."
So far, Clayton has had six fetal stem cell injections. Again the price is $25,000 for the first injection. It costs $8,500 for each of the following injections.
For more information:
Fia Richmond, Founder & President
Children's Neurobiological Solutions
1826 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2420
Dr. William Rader
- LINK: www.medra.com
- (310) 455-5300 or (800) 386-9121
Dr. Evan Snyder, M.D., Ph.D.
Burnham Institute for Medical Research
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