BOCA RATON, Florida, June 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Bartolo Colon’s career seemed to be going down the drains, after being one of major league baseball’s top starting pitchers. In 2005 Colon won the American League Cy Young award, but a series of shoulder and elbow injuries sidelined him until, in 2010, he didn’t play in the majors at all.
By 2009, Colon’s astonishing 97 mph fastball had slowed down considerably and every pitch he threw resulted in agonizing pain: so he went home to the Dominican Republic, defeated.
But in March of 2010, a doctor in the Dominican Republic, Leonel Liriano, contacted Dr. Joseph R. Purita, an orthopedic surgeon who runs a regenerative medicine clinic in Boca Raton. Dr. Liriano asked Purita if he would help in treating Colon.
Purita has used adult stem cell therapy to help numerous athletes with sports injuries, including athletes with the Baltimore Ravens, the Miami Dolphins, the Chicago White Sox and the Texas Rangers.
The treatments involve adult stem cells and platelet-rich plasma therapy, or P.R.P., as an alternative to surgery or in combination with it.
In April 2010 Dr. Purita agreed to Dr. Liriano’s request and flew to the Dominican Republic to interview Colon.
“It was not that it was illegal to do the procedure here in the United States,” Purita said. “He was just living in the Dominican Republic. Everything was above board.”
“Colon said he wanted to get back into baseball,” Purita told the NY Times. “He could not throw the ball without horrible pain, but he felt he still had something left in the can, so to speak. I told Colon this will be a lot less painful than facing Derek Jeter. He said: ‘Derek Jeter? He has never been a problem for me. I always strike him out.’ ”
The procedure performed at the Clinica Union Medica in the city of Santiago involved extracting fat and bone marrow stem cells from Colon and injecting them back into the pitcher’s elbow and shoulder to help repair ligament damage and a torn rotator cuff.
Dr. Purita, who did not charge for his services, said the procedure took only 45 minutes to complete and positive results were evident almost immediately.
“We had him start working out within the first month,” Purita said. “Then I am hearing that he is starting to pitch, and then I hear that he is starting to tear them up in the Dominican league. But I said with a rotator cuff tear and a bad elbow, I don’t know about him getting back into the majors.”
Colon was playing for a Dominican ball team managed by former Yankee coach Tony Pena. But in January of this year, the New York Yankees signed Colon to a contract worth $900,000.
“I feel in my heart and my soul, his performance has been because of the treatment,” Dr. Liriano said. “You see that his fastball is about 95 or 96 miles per hour. It is a miracle, no?”
“This is not hocus-pocus,” Dr. Purita said in an interview back in Florida. “This is the future of sports medicine, in particular. Here it is that I got a guy back playing baseball and throwing pitches at 95 miles an hour.”