Pittsburgh Patient Testimonials

Mary, 68, Retired Teacher

  • Diagnosis – Osteoarthritis
  • Treatment Area – Right Knee
  • Procedure Dates – July 2015

Before Stem Cell Therapy

At age 15, Mary Thomas had meniscus surgery on her right knee. Ten years later, she had surgery again.

“It was horrible,” she recalls. “I had a cast from my ankle up the side, straight leg.”

“I vowed I would spend my life in a wheelchair before I would have surgery again.”

She reconsidered that vow after she retired from teaching in 2004. During the next decade, bone-on-bone arthritis in her knee made every activity more and more painful.

“I used to walk 2.5 miles a day and do yoga dance and social dance,” she says. “But the arthritis really attacked my knee until I could not keep up with others anymore when walking, especially if the ground was not flat.” Eventually, she had to park in handicapped spaces.

“I used my arms to get up out of a chair and I would stand and stretch a bit before I could walk,” she says. “I would hear myself constantly complaining ‘oh my knee, oh my knee.’”

Synvisc injections helped ease the pain for several years—until Mary had a bad reaction to the drug. “I got quite ill and swollen with a high fever,” she remembers. “My doctor said once I had this reaction I would likely have another. I felt I was backed into a corner.”

She scheduled total knee replacement surgery three times, only to cancel when a life-changing event required her focus. Then she saw a promotion for a community education seminar about stem cell therapy, presented by Regenerative and Performance Specialists.

“I took a friend with me to the seminar. We both thought it was too good to be true,” she says.

Mary asked an employee at her orthopedic surgeon’s office about stem cell treatments and was told “‘we do not believe in that.’ So I talked to my primary care physician and she said, ‘Mary, go for it!’”

She scheduled a consultation with Jesse Sally, D.O.

After Stem Cell Therapy

Mary had the procedure July 2015 and felt relief quickly.

“I was surprised at how little pain I had when the bone marrow was harvested. It really was not bad at all,” she says. “I was also surprised that the stem cells worked!”

Mary had been concerned that her two prior knee surgeries and her age would make her a poor candidate for stem cell treatment.

“Also, I was recently told I have a very low platelet count—so I would not be eligible for surgery after all because I would be such a bleeder,” she says. “I was worried that that would be a problem for my eligibility for stem cells but it was not.”

“And I just could not be happier with the professionalism of the doctors,” she adds.

Mary is so satisfied with her results she plans to have her left knee treated in the future.

Guy, 54, Business Owner and Ironman Triathlete

  • Diagnosis – Herniated L4-L5 disc
  • Treatment Area – Spine
  • Procedure Dates – March to November 2014

Before Platelet Therapy

An elite athlete with national and world titles, Guy Berkebile competes in Ironman Triathlons—grueling one-day events that include a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and marathon 26.2-mile run.

In August 2013, during a trip to compete in Germany, Guy woke in excruciating pain. His L4-L5 disc had ruptured.

“I scheduled an emergency flight home and they took me from the plane in a wheelchair,” he remembers. “I had paralysis down the front of my right leg and could not stand or walk for more than a few seconds at a time.”

Spinal surgery relieved the nerve pressure and pain. However, in January 2014, Guy picked up a dumbbell during a workout and felt the disk re-rupture. The pain and paralysis returned.

“I own a chemical company and could not spend much time in the plant because it hurt to stand and walk,” he says. “Even standing to sing a hymn in church was agony.”

Guy’s surgeon warned that a second surgery carried a high risk for the disc collapsing.

“That’s when a friend who competes in ironman triathlons recommended that I call Dr. Lieber. My friend had back problems and Dr. Lieber was able to help him recover without surgery,” Guy says.

After Platelet Therapy

From March to November 2014, Guy visited Dr. Paul Lieber at Regenerative and Performance Specialists for seven treatments combining Regenexx prolotherapy and PL-Disc platelet procedures.

A blood component, platelets are growth factors that promote healing throughout the body. For each PL-Disk treatment, Guy’s own platelets were isolated and concentrated from his blood.

“They drew my blood in the afternoon and I would return the following morning for the injections,” he says. “There was only mild discomfort and I drove myself back to the office.”

After reducing his activity for three days, Guy was back to his normal work and training regimen. By the following summer, Guy’s triathlon performance was back on track—and better.

“I was swimming faster than I ever have,” he says. His cycling times were equally impressive during races in harsh conditions.

Guy encourages anyone considering back surgery to learn about platelet procedures.

“For me, it worked better than surgery,” he says. “And the best part about it—I still have all of my disc tissue because nothing was removed.”

Mark, 59, Retired Sales Manager

Diagnosis – Meniscus tear, knee pain

Treatment Area – Knee

Procedure Dates – May 2014

Before Stem Cell Therapy

As Mark approached his 59th birthday, the pain in his left knee was worsening. He wanted relief, but he knew one thing for certain.

“I did not and do not want to have a knee replacement,” he says. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a bad surgery. You don’t know how long it will last and you have to worry about infection.”

By 2014, the pain had forced him to slow his morning jog to a stroll. Mark’s golf game was affected as well: He quit after four or five holes because each swing of the club required a painful twist of his knee.

“It was hard to walk down steps,” he says. “I like to hunt and it was painful to walk down hills.”

Even vacations with his wife became a challenge. “We flew to Australia and sitting on the plane with my knee bent bothered me,” Mark says. Once they landed, Mark found it painful to walk on cement. “My wife wanted to go, go, go,” he says, “And I did not want to go.”

When Mark’s wife learned that some of her clients had benefitted from stem cell treatment, she encouraged him to research it. He found Regenexx, called the Denver office and was referred to Regenerative and Performance Specialists.

After Stem Cell Therapy

He scheduled a consultation with Dr. Marc Adelsheimer, who believed Mark would be a good candidate for the procedure.

Mark had the stem cell treatment in May 2014. At his three-month appointment, he reported his knee was 100% improved—both in pain reduction and function.

Twelve months later, Mark was playing 18 holes of golf, including stooping and squatting, with no pain. Best of all, because he was no longer favoring his left knee, the pain in his right knee had vanished as well.

What surprised Mark about stem cell therapy? “I was surprised that it works—and that we have it here in Pittsburgh,” he says.

His wife was in for a surprise too.

“One day our dogs were chasing another dog and I ran after them,” he adds. “My wife looked at me and said ‘You’re running!’”

George, 72, Retired Physical Education Instructor and Coach

  • Diagnosis – Adhesive capsulitis of shoulder, osteoarthritis of shoulder
  • Treatment Area – Shoulder
  • Procedure Dates – May and June 2014

Before Stem Cell Therapy

During his career as a physical education teacher and coach in the Pittsburgh public schools, George was active in a variety of sports, from swimming to baseball, wrestling and basketball.

“You get banged up and you pay later—but you would do it all over again,” he says.

In George’s case, the “payment” was arthritis in his left shoulder, which slowly worsened after he underwent rotator cuff surgery in 2003. By 2014, the pain and stiffness were severe.

“My range of motion was cut in half,” he says. “I could not reach back and get my wallet out or take anything off the shelf. I also had trouble putting on a jacket or shirt.”

When a friend mentioned the success he had with stem cell therapy at Regenerative and Performance Specialists, George made an appointment to see Dr. Paul Lieber.

After Stem Cell Therapy

In May and June 2014, George had prolotherapy treatments and stem cell therapy in his left shoulder. By the time he had completed two months of physical therapy, his pain and stiffness were greatly reduced.

A year later, his range of motion was 90% restored and the pain was nearly gone.

George knew that athletes like Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning travelled overseas to have stem cell therapy, so he was grateful to find a highly experienced physician practice offering the treatment in Pittsburgh.

“This is the way to go,” he says. “It’s much better than having surgery because there is no scar tissue and no side effects.”

“And it’s your own body doing your healing—you are not getting anyone else’s blood or stem cells,” he adds. “And it’s working!”

Dr. Moleski, 62, Family Practice Physician

  • Diagnosis – Osteoarthritis
  • Treatment Area – Knee
  • Procedure Date – March 2014

Before Stem Cell Therapy

When her orthopedic surgeon encouraged Dr. Jeanette Moleski to have stem cell therapy instead of total knee replacement surgery, she considered flying to the Regenexx Denver headquarters. She was relieved to learn that Regenerative and Performance Specialists, one of just 29 physician practices in the US to offer Regenexx, is in Pittsburgh—an easy two-hour drive from her home.

Her left knee pain had become unbearable. “I was up at night with the pain,” she says. “It did not matter what position I was in, sitting or standing … I was hurting 24 hours a day.”

Until Dr. Moleski researched stem cell therapy, she thought surgery was her only option. However, an artificial knee would mean permanently giving up her beloved rowing—a sport she discovered at age 55.

“Each year, I see boats listed for sale because the owners had total knee replacement surgery. Thinking of that brought tears to my eyes,” she says.

After Stem Cell Therapy

“Dr. Adelsheimer felt I was a very good candidate,” she says. “I was so relieved to hear that I was in a state of shock.”

Dr. Moleski had her left knee treated in March 2014. Within 14 days her pain was gone.

“I was very comfortable with everything that happened before, during and after the procedure. The office staff is right on top of everything and the equipment is state-of-the-art,” she says.

As a self-employed physician, she was concerned about downtime. However, she was back to the office within a day.

“I had no swelling and took no pain medicine, not even Tylenol,” says Dr. Moleski. Two weeks later, she travelled for speaking engagements in Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago and other cities. She exercised in hotel pools and “was 100% compliant … I did every single thing they told me to do.”

Today, she has no pain and rows solo and with a team several times a week. “Before the stem cell treatment, I was in too much pain to get in and out of my boat,” she says. “Now I have no problems in the water.” She plans to resume curling, her other favorite sport, in the fall.

“I am just thrilled with my result,” says Dr. Moleski.

Maureen, 69, Retail Manager and Restaurant Hostess

  • Diagnosis – Torn meniscus, arthritis, floating kneecap
  • Treatment Area – Knee
  • Date of procedure – November 2014

Before Stem Cell Therapy

A retail store manager and dining room hostess at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Maureen works six days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day—most of it on her feet. Her severe knee pain made it difficult to walk, lift boxes and climb stairs at work, home and on vacation at RV campgrounds.

When oral pain medication and coxcomb injections did not resolve her severe knee pain, and her surgeon said she would soon walk with a cane, she researched stem cell therapy and found Regenerative and Performance Specialists.

After Stem Cell Therapy

“I had a feeling that it would work,” she says. “I liked Dr Lieber—the way he presented it, his friendliness and his compassion.”

She was right. Maureen missed only one day of work during her recovery. Seven months after her treatment, her pain was nearly gone and her function was about 90% improved. Today, Maureen can easily rise from squatting or kneeling on the floor. She no longer needs both hands to pull herself upstairs and she can walk on gravel campground roads with no pain or fear of falling. Her new motorhome has four entrance steps; she can climb them “without thinking about it,” she says.

Maureen’s surgeon had told her that, within a few years, she would need total knee replacement surgery.

“Someone I know had a total knee replacement and her leg is frozen straight—she cannot bend the knee at all,” Maureen says.

“There is no way I would want to be cut. No way, no how!”

Dean, 60, Construction Executive

  • Diagnosis – Rotator cuff tear, osteoarthritis of shoulder, osteoarthritis of knee, knee and shoulder pain
  • Treatment Areas – Shoulder and knee
  • Date of procedures – Shoulder, December 2013; knee and bicep, October 2014

Before Stem Cell Therapy

When Dean had surgery to repair his left rotator cuff, the recovery was lengthy—no driving for six weeks and four months of physical therapy. Similar injuries in his opposite shoulder made sports and daily activities painful. “When I golfed, I had to take a lot of Advil and ice it afterwards,” he says.

In late 2013, facing surgery for tears in his right shoulder cuff and bicep tendon, he decided to try stem cell therapy instead. “I asked my orthopedic surgeon about it and he said, ‘If you are going to do that, go to Dr. Lieber.’”

“I was actually scheduled for surgery but realized, with my business commitments, I could not afford to go through that rehab again,” he says.

Knee pain was a problem as well. After performing two surgeries for meniscus tears, his orthopedic surgeon told Dean that he “did not have enough cartilage for another repair…and was on track for knee replacement surgery.” Ten months after his shoulder procedure, Dean returned to have stem cell therapy for his knee. The same day, stem cells were placed in his right bicep to treat ongoing pain.

After Stem Cell Therapy

While rotator cuff surgery meant six weeks without driving, Dean was behind the wheel just four days after stem cell therapy for his shoulder. He completed physical therapy within a month and, today, he plays golf and can do pushups and pull ups without pain.

The results for his knee are equally positive. Today, Dean golfs, hikes and rides his bike regularly with no knee pain. In the past, a night of dancing would guarantee intense pain the following morning.

“Three months after the stem cell treatment, I went out for New Year’s Eve,” he says. “I was dancing and having a good time … I woke up the next day and thought, ‘My knee doesn’t hurt!’”

Tom, 68, Contractor

  • Diagnosis – Rotator cuff tear, shoulder pain
  • Treatment Area – Shoulder
  • Date of procedure – April 2014

Before Stem Cell Therapy

In the summer of 2013, Tom’s car was hit from behind on two separate occasions. During the following months, he suffered troubling symptoms: decreased range of motion and chronic pain in his left shoulder and—worst of all—severe insomnia.

Tom’s shoulder pain woke him every 30-45 minutes, every night. He found it hard to concentrate and often dozed off at work. “I could not get comfortable at night,” he says. “If you don’t get enough sleep you are miserable.”

He struggled to perform simple tasks, like lifting his left arm while getting dressed and pulling a ticket from a parking garage machine. When months of physical therapy did not resolve the pain, Tom’s orthopedic surgeon suggested tendon repair surgery.

Because he wanted to avoid the 8-to-10-month recovery period, Tom searched online for alternatives. He was pleased to learn he could receive stem cell therapy at the Regenerative and Performance Specialists Pittsburgh office, a short drive from his home.

After Stem Cell Therapy

Tom had stem cell therapy on his shoulder in April 2014. He completed physical therapy for several weeks to rebuild his muscle and regain range of motion. Within six weeks of the Regenexx procedure, Tom’s sleep was nearly back to normal. By the end of summer, his shoulder was 95% pain-free.

“I went into it with very high expectations and came out with the same. Everything I hoped about the treatment came to pass,” he says. “I am very satisfied and I recommend it to many friends.”

In Tom’s opinion, stem cell therapy is “what the future should bring to us as we age.”

“If I am ever thinking about getting knee or hip surgery, I will talk to these guys first,” he adds.

Valerie, 56, Hairstylist

  • Diagnosis – osteoarthritis of knee, medial and lateral meniscus tears, knee pain
  • Treatment Area – Both knees
  • Date of Procedures – April and July 2014

Before Stem Cell Therapy

By the age of 55, Valerie had tried cortisone injections, “rooster shots” and Celebrex to maintain function and control pain in her knees. Bending or putting weight on her knees caused such severe pain that Valerie crawled up and down the stairs at home. She was forced to sit in a chair while styling hair and ask neighbors to carry groceries from the car into her house.

Desperate, she decided to have total knee replacement surgery—and was denied.

“The insurance company said I was too young,” Valerie says. “The artificial knees last only so long, and a second replacement surgery is very difficult.”

She saw Dr. Paul Lieber on a WTAE news segment about Regenexx therapy and wondered if she had, finally, found her solution.

After Stem Cell Therapy

In April 2014, Valerie had stem cell therapy for her right knee. She returned three months later for the left knee and started physical therapy in September. She missed about a week of work after each stem cell treatment.

What surprised her? “How quickly I felt better,” she says.

“Dr. Lieber and Dr. Adelsheimer are fabulous,” she adds. “I have sent four people to them already … so many people have trouble with their knees.”

Today, Valerie is 100% pain-free in the right knee. Her left knee did not respond as fully but “I would still do it,” she says. Local errands that used to take a week or more now take a few hours. She can do her own yard work again and, in general, is much more independent.

The hospital fees for one total knee replacement surgery exceed $50,000. Even though she has insurance coverage, Valerie would have paid close to $20,000 for surgery, rehabilitation and other fees for two knees. “Also, I would have missed several weeks of work without pay,” she says.

She paid far less for stem cell therapy on both knees. “And to be in no pain!” she adds.

“There’s not a price you can put on that.”

Maureen, 65, Retired Medical Office Manager

  • Diagnosis – Osteoarthritis of knee, knee pain
  • Treatment Area – Right knee

Lee, 72, Retired Insurance Broker

  • Diagnosis – Medial meniscus tear, knee pain
  • Treatment Area – Left knee
  • Date of Procedure – April 2015

Before Stem Cell Therapy

A kidney recipient, Maureen is not a candidate for total knee replacement surgery because her infection risk is very high. However, her chronic knee pain had grown so severe she was afraid to walk on uneven surfaces—including her own back yard.

“It hurt to go up and down steps. I could not kneel or run and, when the weather was cold and rainy, my knee would ache,” she says. Steroid shots curbed the osteoarthritis pain but, eventually, stopped working.

Her husband, Lee, had knee pain of his own. A fitness enthusiast with 18 marathons under his belt, Lee had surgery to repair a torn meniscus 10 years ago. “The surgery did not go well and my knee got progressively worse,” he says. Eventually, he developed a limp, had difficulty lifting and could no longer play soccer with his young grandson. As his pain and function worsened, Lee began to consider knee replacement surgery.

Maureen researched alternatives online and found an option that worked for both of them: stem cell therapy at Regenerative and Performance Specialists.

After Stem Cell Therapy

Maureen and Lee drove from Ohio and had their treatments on the same day. Maureen’s recovery was rapid; the pain was significantly reduced within a few days. “In April it was cold and rainy and I had no aching at all. And the more I used my knee, the better I felt,” she says.

Two months later, she travelled to the French Pyrenees and was able to walk up and down very steep hills with her tour group. “That was just amazing to me,” she says. Today, she has no pain in her treated knee.

As for Lee? Within eight weeks of the stem cell treatment, he was running around in the yard, kicking a soccer ball, starting, stopping and keeping up with his grandson—free of pain.

“Now, I can walk up and down stairs with no problem,” he says. He rides his bike 50 or more miles with no pain, before and after, and plans long-distance rides across Ohio and Iowa. Lee also lifts weights at the gym several times a week and can carry heavy objects at home with no joint pain.

Lee also makes time to enjoy working in his flower and vegetable beds.

“If you have a total knee replacement, you cannot kneel and, thus, cannot garden,” adds Lee, a master gardener who grows “just about everything.”