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Sweden: surgeon convicted of bodily harm over synthetic trachea transplant

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A Swedish court has found an Italian surgeon, once hailed for pioneering windpipe surgery, guilty of causing bodily harm to a patient, but cleared him of assault charges.

Paolo Macchiarini won praise in 2011 after claiming to have performed the world’s first synthetic trachea transplants using stem cells while he was a surgeon at Stockholm’s Karolinska University hospital. The experimental procedure was hailed as a breakthrough in regenerative medicine.

But allegations soon emerged that the procedure had been carried out on at least one person who had not been critically ill at the time of the surgery.

During the May trial, held in the Solna district court, prosecutors argued that the surgeries on three patients in Sweden constituted assault, or alternatively bodily harm due to negligence, as Macchiarini disregarded “science and proven experience”.

The district court agreed with the prosecutors, but cleared Macchiarini on two counts as the patients’ health was in such a dire state. “Given the patients’ condition, the district court finds that the procedures on the first two patients were justifiable,” it said in a statement.

However, in the third patient, the court found him guilty of "causing bodily harm". 

"At the time of the third procedure, the experience from the first procedures was such that the surgeon should have refrained from letting yet another patient go through the operation", the court said.

Macchiarini was handed a suspended sentence.

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Source: The Guardian, 16 June 2022

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