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Gloved hands injects stems cells into a knee draped in blue medical sheeting

Joanna had just turned 62 when she noticed that she couldn’t stand very long before her right leg would hurt. She thought it was from an old injury, when her dog had slammed into her thigh. When the ache moved to her wrist, she went to a doctor who said she might be getting arthritis.

The pain quickly intensified. “It just happened so rapidly, and I couldn’t figure out why,” says Joanna, who lives in a Houston suburb. Her doctors chalked it up to wear and tear. “ ‘You’re getting older,’ ” she remembers them telling her. This was in early 2018.

Then she got an e-mail with a link to a video about stem cells and the conditions they could cure, including arthritis. “I started watching it and then I just turned it off for a while because I thought, ‘I’m afraid I’m going to get my hopes up too high,’” says Joanna, who asked that her last name not be used to protect her medical privacy.

She started seeing full-page ads for stem cell seminars in the newspaper.... see more