By Jennifer Wiccolman for CPW News Services
Jennifer Vasilakos, an herbalist and Reiki teacher in Santa Barbara, California could not qualify for a kidney transplant. To raise the money for the procedure she was on a Santa Barbara street corner at her fund-raiser when Ty Warner, the billionaire head of the Beanie Baby company, founder of Ty Inc., stopped to ask for directions.
I often get asked by random strangers for directions. Not one to miss an opportunity, I handed him my flyer and he made a fifty dollar donation. As he drove off, I thought that was the end of our encounter... He'd returned after an hour or so. Rolling down his window, he reached out his hand and introduced himself. I immediately recognized his name. He was kind and sincere as he looked directly into my eyes... I listened as he repeated over and over that he was going to help me. That my fundraising was done. That I didn't need to worry any longer. He said he would send a check after he returned to his offices during the week.
Warner sent a check for $20,000. The money was for a stem cell procedure needed to help save her life.
Rejected for a routine kidney transplant because of a prior condition, the removal of a small spot of melanoma from her back, normal philanthropic channels were closed to her. She was told that the risk of failure was too great. If the melanoma recurred the kidney transplant would be wasted. Initially this response from authorities sent Jennifer into an emotional tailspin. "Friends weren't exactly running up to offer their kidneys," said Beverly Fortuna, a Santa Barbara cancer survivor who thought the transplant policy rediculous.
Sources close to Larry David, whose series Curb Your Enthusiam featured a story of David agonizing over the donation of a kidney for his sick friend Richard Lewis said... “It was rude of David to ask the question. ‘What? The girl didn’t have a friend at the fund-raiser who’d give her a kidney? I could find a doctor friend who would do the transplant for $19,959, but not on Saturdays. Maybe she could get it done for less at a Scientologist or Reiki-related hospital. What? There aren’t any Scientologist or Reiki related hospitals? Really?”
Beyond the generous donation, Vasilakos is on a journey to bring awareness to stem cell -medicine which Vasilakos discovered in her search for an alternative. She determined that using her own hematopoietic stem cells could save her life.
“After I serendipitously met Jennifer, I further educated myself on her stem cell needs. I was shocked that this particular type of treatment wasn't available to her in the U.S.,” said Warner. “My hope is that we can bring this lifesaving treatment to the forefront so that it can become more readily available and provide alternatives for people like Jennifer.”
The National Institute of Health reports that most stem cell research is not embryonic and that Hematopoietic stem cell treatment is an alternative option used to isolate a cell from blood or bone marrow. This provides a regenerating dynamic similar to lizards growing severed tails. However, the Food and Drug Administration says that these procedures are highly regulated and generally unavailable.
Vasilakos believes that the rest of the world is passing up the U.S. in this critical area of medical research.
“We don’t want to find out that there’s a bunch of quackery involved later on,” said Dr. Theodore Blessing, of the Society of Regenerative Sciences. “When Dr. Brinkley was selling his goat gonad procedure for male dysfunction from a clinic in Del Rio, Texas decades before Viagra and advertising across America from the Wolfman Jack station across the border in unregulated Mexico….a station owned partly by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, people were shocked,” said Blessing. "Especially after learning that Dr. Brinkley had FDA approval."
Vasilakos’ procedure will take place at a foreign hospital approved by the International Cellular Medicine Society.
“I hope that ensures its legitimacy,” said Dr. Blessing.
Vasilakos left for the procedure on August 19th to start this leg of her odyssey at an undisclosed location.
As a Reiki teacher, Dr. Blessing wondered if Jennifer was seeking to channel healing powers through the light or dark side of spiritual forces. Blessing, a Methodist whose methods are frequently questioned among his fellow Methodist Hospital colleagues, said I know that comedian George Carlin had his fatal heart attack and that he was taken to St. John’s Hospital for treatment in Santa Monica….named for Saint Monica, mother of that libertine and profligate turned Christian, St. Augustine. Carlin had asked to be taken to an atheist hospital, but the paramedics couldn’t find one and lost valuable time during the 'Golden Hour' looking,” said Blessing. St. John's is also where the neonatal unit is named for wife of former California Governor, Arnold Schwarznegger, Maria Kennedy Shriver. "It is also where Tom Cruise's ex-wife, Katie Holmes, delivered their children after being unable to find a Scientologist hospital within 2500 miles of anywhere," said Blessing.
“I’ve never been able to find a channeling hospital, but that’s not to say that if I could channel Dr. Michael DeBakey , Denton Cooley or Christian Barnard into me, I wouldn’t care if they were Moloch or Odin! Would it be dishonest for me to use Methodist Hospital if I were Moloch or Odin?” he asked noting that historically the two pagan dieties had an abysmal record in healing people's problems without significant strings attached. "Unconditional love? I hear about it at church every Sunday, but Moloch or Odin don't care about that stuff," said Blessing who reiterated that "I am a Methodist. A Utilitarian Methodist."
Members of the Methodists for Truth in Medicine, said that it would definitely be improper on the surface to allow Dr. Blessing's Reiki practices to channel Moloch or Odin, but that if Dr. Blessing's practice proved to provide substantial benefits for the hospital they may consider his unorthodox practices a minor infraction. "Much like the CIA headquarter's using "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free," on the wall of it foyer," said Reverend Betty Dulles Talmadge, president of the Methodist group.