Could celeb star surgeon face sack for ‘secret’ operation?

A prominent surgeon could face dismissal from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute after Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT claimed that he had carried out an experimental operation on a woman in Russia without the Institute's approval.

Could celeb star surgeon face sack for 'secret' operation?
Stockholm-based Italian surgeon Paolo Macchiarini. Photo: SVT/Experimenten
The woman later became seriously ill and died. 
Paolo Macchiarini, famed for his pioneering use of stem cells in regenerative surgery, was reported to the Swedish medical authorities by four doctors in 2014, accused of research misconduct and carrying out procedures without ethical permission, but was cleared by an internal investigation. 
However Anders Hamsten, President of the Karolinska Institute, said that the revelations in the SVT documentary The Experiments (Experimenten), if true, meant he could no longer remain at the institute. 
“We must see the business as an ‘action which undermines our trust’. This is something which our colleagues should not engage in. It’s very clear in our rules.” 
“One must have confidence in one’s colleagues and if that trust is damaged, you cannot continue,” he said.
Hamsten said that his confidence in Professor Macchiarini had also been damaged by claims in an article in Vanity Fair earlier this month that he had fabricated elements of his CV. 
Until his interview with SVT on Thursday, Hamsten has defended Macchiarini for years in the face of repeated warnings, so his sudden shift in tone could mean the beginning of the end for the Italian “super-surgeon”. 
Macchiarini won fame in 2011 for carrying out the first synthetic organ transplant, making a trachea – or windpipe – from plastic, and using it as a frame into which the patient’s own stem cells could then grow. 
He later carried out the procedure on Hannah Warren, a two-year-old Korean girl
However, Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene, the man who received the first transplant, later developed an increasingly bad and then bloody cough, and then died, incubated, in the Karolinska hospital.
Warren, meanwhile, died just two months after the operation took place, as her lungs deteriorated. 
In the documentary Experimenten, Macchiarini admits that his synthetic trachea did not appear to work in its current state, but said that he did not feel it had been wrong to continue testing it on further patients. 
After the Karolinska Institute cleared Macchiarini, he described the whole experience as “every researcher’s nightmare”. 
They had been, he said “extremely damaging: to me, to my team and to the whole field of regenerative medicine”.


Celebrity surgeon suspected in patients’ deaths

Swedish prosecutors have informed the scandal-hit Italian surgeon Paolo Macchiarini that he is formally suspected on two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Celebrity surgeon suspected in patients’ deaths
Paolo Macchiarini in 2010. Photo: Lorenzo Galassi/AP/TT

Prosecutors questioned the surgeon twice last week over operations carried out on 2011 and 2012, Dagens Nyheter reports. 

“The suspicions concern crimes relating to the operations,” prosecutor Anders Tordai told the newspaper. 

Previously an internationally renowned surgery star who operated on numerous Swedish and international celebrities, Macchiarini was sacked in March by Sweden's Karolinska Institute (KI) after growing controversy surrounding his medical methods.

The Italian attained world fame after completing the first synthetic trachea transplant using stem cells in 2011.
He made a name for himself in Sweden for three trachea operations at Karolinska University Hospital. But two of the patients died, while the third sustained serious injuries and remains in hospital in the United States. 
KI first filed a complaint alleging that Macchiarini had downplayed the risks of the procedure in 2014 and suspended all synthetic trachea transplants shortly afterwards. 
A previous article in the medical journal Läkartidningen described the Macchiarini case as an “ethical Chernobyl” for the institute.