UPDATE 17 07 17
CHILDREN’s STEM CELLS (born 2007-2017) STORED BY STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA, MAINLY FROM DELIVERIES AT MITERA AND LITO MATERNITY CLINICS, AT HYGEIA HOSPITAL
I. For parents who have stored their children’s stem cells and/or cord blood units with STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA and wish to instruct us as theirlawyers, within the context of the present report, please open, fill, execute and send to firstname.lastname@example.org the attached instruction (INSTRUCTION) at your earliest convenience.
II. If you or your partner is fluent in Greek, please also read our answers to Frequently Asked Questions at the Greek edition of this website. In light of the large number of interested parties please try to keep contact by telephone, post or other email limited, and address any non-answered questions as per above to email@example.com . Notwithstanding the disclosure of sensitive strategy information or material, we should be expected to provide brief answers, addressed only to our clients.
III. If you know of any other parents who have delivered their children at MITERA or LITO Maternity clinics in Athens Greece and/ or have delivered stem cells for preservation with STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA of the HYGEIA GROUP (until November 2013) between 2007 and May 2017, please inform them accordingly.
IV. In case you wish to be represented by other lawyers or have already instructed other lawyers to act on your behalf please feel free to put them in contact with us for the sake of better coordination and effectiveness.
V. Please store this link and feel free to visit the particular section of this webpage or call our HOTLINE (+30) 211 1893800 at your convenience. For the sake of sufficient information of any and all parents involved we arehappy to introduce this webpage. In fact this webpage, which was deactivated until redesigned, has been created in order for us to be able to upload any and all significant developments, press releases, videos and information made available on a real time basis, whenever possible and not withstanding professional secrecy, sensitive information and any disclosure which might be considered as likely to be detrimental to the fulfilment of our clients’ and the stem cells and cord blood cells’ best interests.
IN SOME DETAIL:
A. ABOUT: The present brief is about children’s stem and/or cord blood cells under long term preservation/storage contracts with STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA (practically out of business as of 23 May 2017, the latest) following deliveries at MITERA, LITO or other Maternity Clinics in Greeceand elsewhere.The present is a summary of a more extensive brief in Greek for parents who can’t read or speak Greek and will keep on being reviewed from time to time for reasons of public benefit. B. PURPOSE: The purpose of the present is to inform and to raise awareness ona major risk to app 35.000 stem cells and/or cord blood units currently stored by Stem Health Hellas SA at Hygeia Hospital’s 2nd floor.
C. BREAKING NEWS: As of 10 July HYGEIA has been appointed via a Prosecutor’s order to act as temporary custodian of all above unitsNotwithstanding HYGEIA’s application to be replaced or relieved of such duty, this appointment, as per applicable law, has an initial term of up to three months.
D. WHO IS TO BLAME: We are neither judges, nor health inspectors / auditors. From documents, testimonies and allegations at hand, notwithstanding further review of evidence and material that is collected and evaluated on an ongoing basis, we consider that the responsibility lies, inter alia, with any and all competent Greek State authorities.
In particular we refer to: i) the absence of stem cell and cord blood banks regulatory framework until 29 March 2017, ii) the bureaucratic, inexperiencedand slow moving regulatory and auditing reflexes of administrative and judicial authorities, iii) the controlled reflexes of a large number of Media that either ignored, misinformed on, or chose to ignore the urgency and essence of the problem, iv) a rather low sense of responsibility and bioethical duty demonstrated by parties involved until and after
STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA (the company responsible to safeguard stem cells and cord blood units entrusted to it by tens of thousands of parents) publicized its insolvency and reached out.
E. CONFLICTS: IKONOMOPOULOS & PARTNERS, LLP represents only parents who have entered to 10, 20, 30 or 40 year contracts with STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA regarding the cryopreservation and prepaid storage of about 35,000 units of newborn’s genetic material still/currently stored at the premises of HYGEIA GROUP. IKONOMOPOULOS & PARTNERS LLP has never represented and does notrepresenteither STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA, and/or any related HYGEIA GROUP, and/or MARFIN INVESTMENT GROUP, and/or anyIASSO HOSPITAL GROUP member. IKONOMOPOULOS & PARTNERS LLP has not represented, at least in the last ten years, any STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA, HYGEIA GROUP, MARFIN INVESTMENT GROUP and/or any other Stem Cell and Cord Blood Bank or related party.
WHY DOES STEM HEALTH’S SMS TO PARENTS DIRECT THEM TO THIS WEBSITE: Since 20 May we were the first law firm to intervene on behalf of parents in this case. In light of STEM HEALTH HELLAS’s insolvency, the only way possible for STEM HEALTH HELLAS to inform any and all parents involved was either by registered email, or via a rather expensive call center, or byshort “up to160 character” SMS to the mobile phone numbers of the parents as registered with STEM HEALTH HELLAS.
High postage and call centers costs reduced options to the dispatch of about 41.000 SMS. Since STEM HEALTH HELLAS sustains that has no funds to cover for above SMS dispatch, this was made possible after our firm offered to STEM HEALTH HELLAS to prepay its selected IT and sms provider for the dispatch, without us having access to STEM HEALTH HELLAS’s sensitive personal database. Hence reference to this webpage.
F. STANDBY AGREEMENT: As per an alleged agreement between MEDSTEM SERVICES A.E (IASO HOSPITAL’s cord blood bank) and STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA (pending to be received for verification and review) MEDSTEM SERVICES assumed the standby obligation to take over STEM HEALTH HELLAS’s cord blood units in case of STEM HEALTH’ s insolvency, and vice versa.Although as per STEM HEALTH’s CEO theagreement does not provide for the storage of stem cells (tissue) but only for umbilical cord blood cells, we are expecting the agreement in order to investigate if and to which extent it is still in place, enforceable and extendable. G. HYGEIA GROUP:The official position of the HYGEIA GROUP, as per a press release of 1 June 2017 (www.hygeia.gr), was that HYGEIA GROUP would finance (solely) the supply of nitrogen for the continuous operation of the tanks for as long as it may be needed until a solution is found, although it had no obligation to do so. For your information, HYGEIA GROUP, as of November 2013, is no longer a STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA shareholder after selling its controlling majority shareholding to an (under / non capitalized) management company (for a total sale price of €2, ie €1 per transaction).
Our first legal comments HYGEIA GROUP’s disclaimer are the following:
a. As per STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA’s CEO,HYGEIA GROUP’s maternity clinics and doctors were receiving, either directly from parents or from STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA, an aggregate of app. 50% as fees/commission from every parent’s payment regarding cord blood and umbilical cord blood cells delivery, processing, and preservation with STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA.
b. HYGEIA GROUP, as per STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA’ s CEO, made good use of STEM HEALTH HELLAS’s services, while the latter was a member of the HYGEIA GROUP, to subsidize/attract/maintain deliveries in HYGEIA GROUP’s maternity clinics, operating STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA at a loss. In fact, in November 2010 HYGEIA GROUP announced the provision of STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA services to parents without cost due to the ongoing financial crisis. c. When HYGEIA GROUP “divested” from its shareholding in STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA, in November 2013, STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA had a negative financial position of app. €3.000.000.As per Greek Law 2190/1920 –notwithstanding an immediate and adequate share capital increase by a sufficiently capitalized investor – at the time of HYGEIA GROUP’s divestment STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA was not only about to go financially “bust”, but was also running the legal risk of having its license revoked by the supervising authorities.
d. Right before HYGEIA GROUP divested from its shareholding in STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA, although STEM HEALTH settled a number of debts towards HYGEIA GROUP members, it did not provide for the servicing of long term prepaid stem cells and cord blood cells preservation contracts with its clients/parents. Η. CONTEXT OF INSTRUCTION: To avoid,to the extent that this can be achieved, stem cell and cord blood units’ destruction and to secure analternative viable solution to depositors for the performance of already prepaid contracts, without extra cost, of any and all units that are still safe.If you wish to safeguard your children’s genetic safety deposits by instructing us– in a defensive/offensive massive, low cost and collective extra judicial, administrative and/or temporary measures movement along with other parents, for below mentioned targets – your representation shall be in accordance with the draft assignment /instruction located at this section of our webpage.
The draft instruction includes any and all applicable financial terms and conditions for this first and most important stage of our effort to mobilize any and all responsible parties, administrative and judicial authorities and the Greek Ministry of Health to:a) audit and safeguard the uninterrupted fillingand maintenance of the nitrogen cryo-tanks, b) preserve existing stem cells and cord blood units, to the extent that they are still active, and c) secure that long term prepaid contracts will be honored by a credible private or public Health Institution, for the private use by depositor children and their families.
Ι. TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT: If you are a parent who has stored your child/children stem cells and/or cord blood units with STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA and you are interested to be represented by us after reading the present brief, you may provide to us the pertinent instruction by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The more parents we represent, the higher the possibility to be successful.
The priorities of our engagement, be it from one single parent or thousands, remain the following:
1. Our immediate target, for which no parent has any financial or other obligation towards us, was to deal as of 20 May 2017 with the emergency need, following Hygeia’s initial denial to supply the tanks with nitrogen, to achieve the filling of the cryo-preservation tanks located at HYGEIA HOSPITAL’s premises with required nitrogen as needed.
This target as per Hygeia’s appointment as Custodian, following the Athens Prosecutor’s Order of 10 July 2017– without us having been able to verify yet the condition of the units via a biological audit –is, temporarily at least, achieved. This task will be fulfilled with the conclusion of a series of requisite biological “viability” audits.
2. Our next target (A), with an anticipated period of possibly months, is for the stem cells and cord blood units of the newborns delivered for cryopreservation and storage to Stem Health Hellas SA, to the extent that are still active, to continue to be safely stored at the premises of and by HYGEIA GROUP until finding a definitive and reliable solution after STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA went out of business, as per its email of 30 May 2017 (in Greek) to parents’ email addresses existing at STEM HEALTH HELLAS’ s database and subsequent STEM HEALTH HELLAS’s SMS dispatches.
For this purpose we have provoked controls by the Greek Ministry of Health, and the Prosecutors office and scope to the issue of any requisite order that will keep on enforcing such obligation until the problem is solved.
3. Our next goal (B) is: a) storage to be effected for private use only by any STEM HEALTH HELLAS SA successor with a guarantee of reliability and security at least equivalent to those of the HYGEIA GROUP until the expiration of each contract, and b) to be completed in accordance with already signed and pre-paid contracts without, to the extent possible, any further charge to any of our clients.
4. Alternatively, for those parents who wish so, we are in the process of closing on a technically and scientifically reliable and secure process of checking, receiving and transferring their children’s genetic material to any other bank that they may wish, reserving all rights. This process, if/when/by whoever required, will have additional costs and may be borne only by parents who wish to assume such additional costs, reserving of course all their rights to seek reimbursement by any person liable against them. In light of the stems’ temporary seizure of 10 July 2017 by the Athens’ Prosecutor’s Office, the first application for levying thereof for any parents who wish to transfer to another Bank of their choice is scheduled to be filed by 28 July.
5. Finally, in addition to the above, and for any parents who wish to do so in addition to the above, we will exercise every and all legal (civil, criminal, administrative) rights of any parents that may wish to instruct us to do so before any competent court and authority in order to identify and seek compensation of any kind due to the possible risk that the genetic material of their children was exposed at, if still in good condition, and for any other legitimate cause. As parents ourselves we understand that this may not be your first priority.
Trusting the above to be in good order and regardless of us or any other lawyer’s instructions, please be assured that we fully share your concerns as parents.
Our own main concern while preparing and updating the present part of our web page was, is and remains the safety of any and all stem cell and cord blood units that are, hopefully, still safe and active.
Health deposits such as children’s genetic material ones may, God forbid, prove to be way more valuable than any other kind of deposit.
Athens, 17 July 2017 Update to memo of 4 July 2017