Dr. Con Man: How a Fraudulent Surgeon Rose to Fame Undetected

Unbelievable tale of Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, a famed scientist, who was exposed as a con artist.

September 3, 2017 5:00 am
Dr. Paolo Macchiarini.
Dr. Paolo Macchiarini (Photo by Katie Collins/PA Images via Getty Images)

In 2008, Dr. Paolo Macchiarini was hailed as a medical messiah after successfully creating an artificial airway for a young Spanish woman using her own stem cells, according to the The Guardian. It was widely hailed as a breakthrough in science, one that could change medicine forever. But that medical miracle was more like a mirage. It’s now known that Macchiarini is a con artist and a fraud. Though that first patient is still alive, many he later operated on are not—including 3-year-old Hannah Warren, who was born without a functional trachea and operated on by Macchiarini at Children’s Hospital of Illinois. She died two months after the surgery.

How did Macchiarini fool everyone? How were these surgeries allowed to take place? And how did the doctor nab a position at one of the most prestigious universities in Sweden? The Guardian argues that the medical community and the media are both to blame for his rise, and both should be burdened with the responsibility to learn from this tragic scandal. 

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