Surgeon Paolo Macchiarini gained international attention in 2011 when he announced he had performed the world’s first synthetic organ transplant by replacing a patient’s trachea, or windpipe, with a plastic tube. When doubts arose about the success of subsequent operations, Karolinska officials disregarded the results of an investigation by an outside expert and reaffirmed their faith in Macchiarini. In a gripping three-part documentary, reporter Bosse Lindquist explained how the surgeon did not fully inform his patients about the risks of the trachea implants and had falsified research results in journal articles. The documentary, appearing after the Karolinska inquiry already had cleared Macchiarini of charges that he had misrepresented the success of his work, caused a sensation in Sweden. Macchiarini eventually was fired, the vice chancellor of the Institute stepped down, and new inquiries were launched. The documentary included surgical camera footage for one of Macchiarini’s patients that seemed to show more underlying airway damage than the surgeon had described in published scientific articles. Most of Macchiarini’s trachea patients died, including a woman treated in Russia who was not seriously ill prior to treatment. In early September, 2016, the Swedish government dismissed all remaining Karolinska board members who were active during Macchiarini’s tenure. Judge David Baron said that the Swedish documentary “is true investigative journalism of the highest order, and the producers told the complex story with the utmost skill and artistry. Ultimately, it is a cautionary tale that anyone who works in clinical research would be well advised to watch and to heed.”  In a statement, the SVT team said: “We are honored to receive the AAAS Kavli Gold Award. We are especially glad as the core issues of the Macchiarini affair are so important. Patients must not be unwittingly experimented on. Animal testing must come before trials on humans – not vice versa. The integrity of science must be upheld and falsifications and untruths must be kept out of the scientific record.”

“The Experiments: The Star Surgeon”

Jan. 13, 2016 (Transcript)

“The Experiments: Every surgeon has his own graveyard”

Jan. 20, 2016 (Transcript)

“The Experiments: The Labyrinth of Truth”

Jan. 27, 2016 (Transcript)