No stem cell treatment for public servant’s dodgy knee

Posted: March 26, 2015 at 12:45 pm

A federal public servant has lost a legal bid to have taxpayers pay for experimental stem cell treatment on his dodgy knees.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has knocked back an appeal by Customs officer Vic Kaplicas to force insurer Comcare to pay $13,400 for the new treatment, instead saying he could have a tried-and-tested double knee replacement.

But the 49-year-old border official says he worries he cannot pass his department's fitness tests if he undergoes the knee replacements, which will leave him unable to run.


The former triathlete, who had to give up his sport because of his bad knees, said he was keen to avoid the "radical but effective" replacements for as long as possible.

Mr Kaplicas hurt his left knee working at Sydney's Mascot Airport in 2000, then injured his right knee 10 years later at Kingsford-Smith.

He managed the pain in his knees, which have since developed osteoarthritis, for years using over-the-counter painkillers, physio, exercises and injections but Mr Kaplicas' doctors say a more permanent solution is now needed.

In June 2012, Sydney knee specialist Sam Sorrenti asked Comcare to pay for bilateral knee stem cell assisted arthroscopic surgery for Mr Kaplicas.

The cost of the procedure was estimated at $13,464.00 for arthroscopy, stem cell harvesting and injection, and a "HiQCell procedure".

Dr Sorrenti said the knee replacements were not a good idea for a man of Mr Kaplicas' age, arguing the new knees would last 15 years at best, were intended for older people who are less concerned with physical activity, and left no further options.

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No stem cell treatment for public servant's dodgy knee

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