The rash and fingernail problem seemed to improve somewhat during the program, Chiavario said, but he said he became very sick at the clinic and his stomach bloated with constipation.
On Dec. 21, four weeks and $5,750 later, Chiavario said, he was proclaimed by Donsbach to be free of candidiasis. Still sick and bloated, he went home to Victorville.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday November 25, 1987 Home Edition Part 1 Page 2 Column 6 Metro Desk 2 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Due to an editing error, a story in the Oct. 22 editions of The Times on Tijuana medical clinics failed to specify Charlotte Gerson's precise connection to the Hospital de Baja California, better known as the Gerson Clinic. She is a paid consultant to the clinic.
Ten days later, he said, he was admitted to a hospital emergency room and the next day a section of his colon had to be removed.
Donsbach maintains he has a "glowing testimonial" from Chiavario for treatment of his rash.
He denies any knowledge of or responsibity for treating Chiavario's problems with his colon.
Not all patients to the Tijuana clinics are there seeking cures for diseases. Some are searching for the Fountain of Youth.
"Act, look, feel younger. Live Longer with Live Cell Therapy," says the ad for Genesis West, published in the Health Freedom News, the monthly publication of the National Health Federation.
"Live cell therapy," the ad continues, "is based on the fact that tired organs can be restored and revitalized through the implantation of fetal cells."
Genesis West, owned in part by Maureen Salaman, president of the National Health Federation, is connected to a vitamin distributorship in Redwood City. The Genesis West clinic, located in an office building adjacent to the posh Fiesta Americana hotel in Tijuana, does not treat cancer, but claims to be effective in treating a host of illnesses from Parkinson's disease to impotency.
But the clinic purportedly specializes in stopping the aging process.
Cells said to have been taken from livers, brains and pancreases of calf embryos in West Germany are frozen and flown to Tijuana where they are thawed and injected into patients' backsides. The cost: about $3,000 for a five-day treatment that includes meals and a room in the Fiesta Americana.
"It actually does not rejuvenate the body," Dr. Salvador Vargas, medical director of the clinic, said of the treatment.
"What it does," he claimed, "is it stalls the decaying process of the individual."
"That is a direct descendant of alchemy," said Caleb Finch, professor of gerontology and neurology at USC, of the "live-cell" treatment. "And it might be better found around the witches' caldron in the staging of MacBeth."
The patient's immune system would immediately attack the foreign "live cells" injected into the body, Finch and other medical scientists said.
"They get chewed up and removed through urine and the digestive system," he said of the injected cells.
In contrast to the clean and modern offices of Genesis West, the St. Jude International Clinic is located in a grimy and dismal old two-story building on a steep side street near downtown Tijuana.
There, according to clinic patrons, operator Jimmy Keller places jars of vitamins and supplements within what he calls patients' "force fields" and then tests their strength by pushing down on their extended arms. If Keller finds that a patient's strength is increased while a certain vitamin is within the "force field," he prescribes that substance.
Wanted by FBI
Keller is wanted by the FBI on a federal grand jury indictment for medically related wire fraud. Federal authorities said that while operating back and forth across the Mexican border at Brownsville, Tex., in 1984, Keller claimed to be able to diagnose cancer by holding snapshots of patients against a plate attached to a machine.
Keller, who refused to be interviewed by The Times, used the rhythms and cadences of a Southern revivalist preacher as he told a clinic bus tour audience that he successfully treats various diseases, using everything from snake venom to what he termed "Panama gas."
Despite his seemingly outrageous treatments, people flock to Keller.
Among them is Andy Terzuoli, 39, who possesses a doctorate in electrical engineering and for months has been taking his wife, Carol, to Keller's clinic for cancer treatment. Carol Terzuoli, 38, a nutritionist, suffers from terminal throat cancer and is unable to speak.
"If she dies," said Terzuoli of his wife, "I'm the type of person that would not be able to live with myself if I didn't try anything that was given to me."
After spending six weeks as an outpatient at Keller's clinic, Carol Terzuoli went back home to Ohio.
"She's really about the same," her husband said last week.
Next: How insurance companies pay for Tijuana treatments.