Dr. Ralph Conti, a well-known pediatrician in the Henderson and Las Vegas area, has been indicted for fraud. These charges stem from his (alleged) association with Dr. Sapse, who claimed to have pioneered a revolutionary new cure for diseases such as MS from placental stem cells. Dr. Sapse was allegedly getting the placentas from Sunrise Hospital, since his apartment where he would perform the procedure was only a mile away from the hospital. However, those claims have not been substantiated. (I throw that in there because Sunrise was the hospital that I had to fight in order to get them to release placentas to the mothers, even though Dr. Sapse was under investigation at the same time, 2007 and 2008. You can read about those cases on past blog posts.)
Dr. Conti worked out of the St. Rose hospitals, who have gone on record to say that they did not allow him to take placentas from their hospital, and if he did, it was without consent. Sunrise said the same thing about Dr. Sapse. So these men were (allegedly) STEALING the placentas of unsuspecting mothers, and doing their own Frankensteinian operations on chronically ill patients, while charging them a total of one million dollars.
According to the indictment, Sapse hired Conti in the fall of 2005 and caused him to implant placental tissue in the abdomen of sick patients. The document alleges Conti, who had no prior stem cell training, performed the procedure on about 34 patients in 2006.
“Conti performed the implant procedures knowing they would not benefit the patients,” the indictment alleges.
In November 2006, according to the document, Conti performed procedures that resulted in the infection of several patients.
In a phone interview Thursday, Sapse said Conti’s name came up several years ago during a conversation with another doctor as “someone who was interested in stem cell research.”
“I contacted him, and he was very interested,” Sapse said.
Sapse said he told Conti how to do the implant procedure and then watched the pediatrician do it in his office in the Del Webb Medical Plaza on the St. Rose Dominican Hospital-Siena campus.
“I didn’t do the implantations,” Sapse said. “He did.”
Sapse said Conti would get placentas from the labor and delivery department at the nearby hospital.
Sapse said he did not know whether hospital administrators were aware of what Conti was doing, but he said the pediatrician seemed to have no trouble getting the placentas.
“He’d just walk over and get them,” he said.
St. Rose has been one of the more difficult to negotiate placenta release from as well. They hold the placentas for seven days, at which point the parents can come pick them up or they will be destroyed. I think seven days is an extremely long time to hold a placenta. My clients who do want to encapsulate the placenta do not get their placenta capsules until 10 days postpartum, at which point many are already suffering from symptoms of baby blues. If we can get the capsules to the mother in the first few days, she often does not experience any negative effects from birth recovery.
So, bottom line of this whole situation is simple: TAKE THE PLACENTA HOME. Even if you don’t want to use it for your postpartum recovery. It is a part of your baby, it helped to give your baby life, and it deserves to be treated with respect – not lie discarded in a hospital bin, or stolen for its stem cells.