When the Rialto man had a medical problem the traditional approach couldn't fix, the cutting edge of medicine was ready to step in with a treatment that worked.
Mathis, 48, has known he has diabetes for 14 years. He's worked hard to manage it, but genetics are probably are not on his side.
Last year, a simple irritation on his right foot became a large festering wound that threatened his foot - and his life.
Perhaps the 6 foot 9 inch, 335-pound personal security agent toughed it out a little too long. If he had sought medical attention rapidly - instead of home remedies - perhaps things would not have gotten so bad.
When he showed up at the emergency room
at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, there was little doubt what was needed - first, surgery to clear
off the dead tissue on his foot followed by treatments in the Colton hospital's hyperbaric chamber.
Hyperbaric units were originally developed to help divers overcome decompression sickness, "the bends,"
but have in recent years been used more to help heal problematic wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers,
bone infections, radiation tissue damage (from cancer therapy) and compromised skin grafts.
Patients with these conditions are placed in hyperbaric chambers where they breathe 100 percent oxygen under pressure.
Largely because of the diabetic epidemic, hyperbaric wound treatment therapies are in great demand.
The large, gaping hole in the top of Mathis' foot showed significant improvement with the hyperbaric treatments -
the open area was gradually shrinking.
But then progress stopped - the wound wasn't shrinking anymore. A hole larger than a silver dollar wasn't changing.
After five months, doctors realized they had achieved whatever beneficial effects the hyperbaric chamber could provide - and their patient still had an open wound, which could become re-infected at any time.
But the timing was perfect. Dr. Vivian Davis and an Arrowhead Regional colleague, Dr. Farbi Hussain, were looking for patients for a clinical trial involving same person stem cell therapy. (Funny way to put it: "same person stem cells." But only in America. Since no one is allowed to publish a positive article about the cell which Big Medicin know will reduce its pprofits, and since Big Medicine runs the FDA and controls every major news medium in Amerika, the word "adult" is NOT ALLOWED in front of the words "stem cells" in a positive article!)
This relatively new treatment - already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - had been shown to lower the risk of extremity amputations in diabetic wounds.
Mathis become the first of 10 patients in a clinical trial from May to August.
With a grant from Arteriocyte, a medical device company, Arrowhead Regional acquired machines that "spin down" patients blood and bone marrow to isolate stem cells.
Stem cells are unspecialized cells that renew themselves through cell division. They can be induced to become specialized cells, where they are used to replace worn-out or damaged tissue.
With the aid of specialized centrifuges - and a proprietary medium developed by Arteriocyte - doctors were able to isolate Mathis' stem cells.
A "patch" containing the stem cells was applied directly to the patient's wound. The patch, also containing platelet rich plasma, is designed to stimulate healing of bone and soft tissue.
And the process worked. Mathis' wound closed.
Said Davis: "We have known for some time that stem cell therapy is promising. This study enabled us to see firsthand that we can realize recoveries we hadn't previously experienced."
Six of nine patients in the trial had wounds that closed completely - a rate of 67 percent - in an average of two months.
Three of the nine patients who had wounds that didn't completely close showed significant improvement, Davis said.
Source: National Institutes of Health