As a renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Ethan Kellum has the ability to help his patients regain function and live better lives. However, surgery isn’t the answer for everyone for a variety of reasons, and he wanted to offer alternatives to help those patients as well. Although he still performs surgery, his main focus now is on regenerative medicine (bone marrow concentrate and adipose (fat) tissue containing stem cells, and platelet rich plasma) and keeping his patients living active, functional lives.
“When I was in fellowship, I was the assistant team physician for the Boston Celtics,” says Dr. Kellum, a Tennessee native. “Because of that, I learned about PRP, or platelet rich plasma, as a non-surgical option because the players wanted it.” Later when he founded his own practice in Franklin in 2016, Nashville Regenerative Orthopedics, he had a patient who was a marathon runner and could no longer run. The patient had done everything to get better, including physical therapy and being placed in a walking boot, but nothing helped. Dr. Kellum offered him PRP, and he was back to running marathons a short time later.
“It's my calling to help people get better, to get back their function,” he says. “I love what I do and it's extremely rewarding.”
In 2023, to reflect its comprehensive treatments, the name of the practice changed to Kellum Stem Cell Institute. Here, Dr. Kellum shares what it offers and why, and how he and his team can help others through the magic of stem cell therapy, not only with orthopedic issues, but all kinds of chronic diseases.
Q: How does stem cell therapy help patients live better, more functional lives?
Every disease, whether it's musculoskeletal, multiple sclerosis, autism or any of those issues, has a basis of inflammation. Inflammation comes about because of the environment that we're in, the food we eat, not getting enough sleep, stress - all of these things play into inflammation. If you can make the inflammation better, you can decrease the symptoms of those issues.
This is what stem cells are made to do – decrease inflammation. Our body naturally has stem cells, but they can lie dormant and need a little help to get where they're supposed to go.
Q: How do you help these stem cells?
We do a small in-office procedure to take stem cells from patients, and then we concentrate those cells and sometimes we even grow them to higher numbers. We then give them back intravenously, putting them in a joint or a tendon, or whatever area that’s struggling, and we let the stem cells do their thing and work their magic.
Stem cells have the ability to hone into where there’s a problem to decrease inflammation, and when the inflammation is decreased, there’s less pain and therefore better function.
Q:. Is the procedure safe?
Yes. The great thing is that it's material from your own body, so there's very little chance of rejection. The safety profiles have been studied a lot over the years and we know it's super safe. It's not going to hurt you.
Q: Why is using stem cells sometimes a great alternative to surgical intervention?
As an orthopedic surgeon, I’m obviously not opposed to surgery. It’s a great tool at times, and stem cells can't be used for everything, But there are a lot of times that they can be and sometimes there's not even a surgery for the problem a patient is having. With stem cell therapy, there’s also much less downtime.
Q: Once someone is injected with stem cells, about how long does it take for them to start feeling better?
It can happen as early as two weeks, but I always tell people to give it three months.
Q: Kellum Stem Cell Institute believes in building full-body health and one way it does this is by using IV infusions to bring essential vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes straight into patients’ veins. These procedures bring relief from stress, fatigue, and various health concerns. Why did you decide to add this treatment option?
We're pretty nutritionally deficient, and the great thing about IV therapy is that it's going to be 100 percent bioavailable versus what you take orally. I would say that probably the majority of us has or will have what I call gut issues, where we don't absorb things. So taking vitamins orally is not going to be very efficient. I'm not saying there's not a place for it, especially if you were treated with IV vitamins for a while. You can get a good dose in there and then maintain things orally. Once again, we're trying to lessen inflammation, and we can do this with these infusions. Quite honestly, most of our chronic diseases arise not because we have a true disease, but because we’re nutritionally deficient and therefore our body just can't work properly.
Q: What happens when a patient comes in for IV infusions?
First, we assess the patient to understand what's going on with them and we also do bloodwork to determine deficiencies. The infusions are tailored to each patient and to what they need. For example, their vitamin D may be great, but their magnesium is low and that's a problem.
Q: How often should people come in for IV therapy?
Ideally, someone would get 12 treatments in a year, so once a month, but to start, I would say once a week for three months. It’s a safe procedure and we’ve been giving these supplements for a long time.
Q: Why was it important to you to offer these services to your patients?
Because we want our patients to do well, we're interested in getting to the root cause and find out the things that are actually causing their problems. If we just give them a bunch of pills to alleviate the symptoms, we haven't gotten to the root cause of it. For example, if someone has scurvy, we can fix their bones and make them straight again, but we haven't done anything for the real underlying problem. We need to give them vitamin C.
Q: Why should people trust Kellum Stem Cell Institute, and you and Dr. Hemal Mehta, to provide the best care for their individual circumstances?
What we do helps; it works. The biggest thing is that you're going to get someone who cares about you as a person and wants to help you get better.
Q: People come to Kellum from all over the U. S., Canada, and Europe for treatments. How does your staff assist these patients who are far from home?
They definitely help people have what they need while they're here and make them comfortable. They can handle transportation and lodging, and anything else they require.
Q: Many pro athletes also visit Kellum Stem Cell Institute for treatments. In addition to the Celtics, what other teams have you been involved with in your career?
Basically all of the major sports, from the UFC and NFL to the MLB and NHL. I'm also one of the team doctors for the Titans. I take care of a lot of players from many places and everything is kept highly confidential.
To begin your healing journey, go to KellumStemCellInstitute.com