A desperate injection of stem cells and hope
One night Tom plowed his wheelchair into furniture, knocking over lamps and chairs. Valerie called the police, telling them that he had tried to ram into her too.

After that, she refused to guard his secrets and told Dr. Glass about the stem cell treatment.

The neurologist understood. Tom was not his only patient who had sought unproven stem cell therapies abroad.

Valerie asked a lay minister from her church to talk with her each week.

All that fall, a pungent odor wafted through the house — a brew of Chinese herbs that Tom poured into his feeding tube.

In early November, Tom received an e-mail from BioMark stating that the board of directors wanted to offer him a second treatment. He would only be required to pay about $1,000.

"Please do not contact them and tell them it doesn't work," Tom typed in a message to Valerie. "I need anything now to help me and I will try anything."

Perhaps the first stem cell injection just needed a boost. He was ready to wire the money as soon as BioMark scheduled an appointment.

Then the news arrived. Tom showed Valerie the e-mail from the FDA. BioMark was under investigation for fraud.

"I guess you won't be going for that second treatment," Valerie told Tom.

He lowered his head.

He still believed in BioMark, but there was nothing he could do on his own. Valerie could barely listen to him anymore.

She dug up the number for the Canadian doctor who had injected Tom, and demanded a refund.

Dr. Goddard sent $1,920, which he told her was his fee from BioMark. He did not return several phone calls from The Times.

The money arrived with a note saying, "I love my patients." There was also a book, the 1969 classic by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, "On Death and Dying."

Valerie glanced at the book and deposited the money.


On March 23, 2004, Tom Hill died at Haven House Hospice in Atlanta. He was 56.

At a memorial service at Northside United Methodist Church, old friends spoke about their fraternity days at the University of Georgia. The minister remembered how happy Tom had been to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding.