Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife (2023) s01e02 Episode Script

Episode 2

[train wheels clacking on track]
[light instrumental music playing]
[Benita] It took a while for the film
that I was making
about Paolo to finally air.
Which was a bit frustrating
for me and Paolo
because we were waiting for it to be
released before we could, sort of, do a,
you know, a
before we were free to be totally public.
All of my friends
and family knew at that point
that we were a couple
and that we were quietly engaged,
but I certainly had not
announced it professionally yet.
In hindsight, the fact
that I was a journalist
ended up being very convenient for Paolo.
The special finally aired
in the summer of 2014.
There was a lot of anticipation,
and I actually had a viewing party.
[indistinct chatter]
We all sat there in movie seats
and watched the documentary.
[Paolo on film]
I just need to help my patients.
Clearly, if I can save
many among my patients,
then even better.
This is the beauty of my mission.
I don't need to make money
or to be famous or nothing else.
People were crying, you know?
People were so moved.
We had a big spread afterwards.
I gave a little speech,
and then Paolo gave a speech.
It was a very moving speech, actually,
about how much he was in love with me,
and how much I meant to him,
and how he couldn't wait to marry me.
And a lot of people
were really touched by what he said.
And a few of my girlfriends,
in particular, um,
were just, "Wow," you know?
"This man's incredible."
He's got this magnetism to him.
Once you got drawn in,
it was very hard to pull back.
It's almost like he just kinda sat back
like a spider in the middle of the web.
He knows how to draw you into the web.
No question about it.
[dramatic music rises and fades out]
[tense music playing]
I was scouring the net
for journalistic stories,
documentaries about Paolo Macchiarini.
It was clear that deaths
had been portrayed as successes
in international media.
That inexplicable conundrum
is what kept me going.
[Paolo] This is the final brainstorming
before the transplantation.
We need to go through every single step.
Probably everybody of you
have seen the patient.
She's a wonderful girl.
The film that showed
Paolo's surgery on Julia Tuulik
says that it was a big success.
But Julia was dead,
and something quite untoward
seems to have happened.
[dramatic note rises and fades]
I always work
with a healthy dose of skepticism.
And in this particular case
with Macchiarini,
it was clear that somebody
was not telling the truth.
But I didn't know who.
[Johannes] We fly to St. Petersburg,
and we meet with the mother of Julia.
She says that Julia's dying wish
was, uh, for her story to be told
so that nobody else
would have to go through this torture.
[Bosse] Julia's mother,
she had been fearful
for a long time before the procedure
because she hadn't trusted Macchiarini.
You look beautiful.
Thank you.
[Bosse] And she had seen how
he had charmed and seduced her daughter.
The mother made it very clear to us
how Paolo always had been available
to her daughter, uh, before the operation.
After the procedure, he went silent.
And that, of course,
was very painful and unsettling
because Julia started
to experience grave problems
already after about two or three weeks
after surgery.
[dramatic note pulses]
And, eventually, she died.
[Paolo] If you have a patient who dies
because of the new technology,
then you always ask you,
"Did I do something wrong?"
"Do I have the right to continue?"
"Should I continue?"
But still, you learn only by doing.
I am saying that we are still improving
and we need to improve time over time.
And only by doing, we improve.
We knew that there were
new patients actually queuing
to get the same kind of plastic implant.
Macchiarini had the approval
of the Russian government.
It was one of Putin's pet projects,
so it was a very high profile
undertaking in Russia.
[dramatic tones resonating]
My initial reason
for pursuing this story was that
something was obviously wrong.
[up-tempo instrumental music plays]
[jet engine roaring]
[Belina] Paolo and I
flew out to California,
which is where my younger brother
lives with his wife.
Matt and Sarah are a lot of fun.
And he got along with them
right away and they
You know, I remember
that weekend being very, um
a lot of laughs.
[indistinct PA announcement]
[Matt] I remember
picking them up at the airport.
And to be quite honest,
I was very intimidated
from the information that I'd been given.
You know,
"This is a world-renowned surgeon"
He also has a very strong
commanding presence.
[Matt] I honestly didn't know
what I was gonna say to him,
but he was very endearing.
It was just really easy
to kinda talk to him.
[Sarah] He was charming.
but intimidating at the same time.
Very sweet with my children.
Uh, very sweet with Benita.
They'd be dancing around our kitchen
and he would always call her "my love."
There was no doubt in, really,
anyone's mind that was close to her,
how strongly he felt.
[music ends]
He made a beautiful dinner
for us one night.
Stories just started
flooding out of his mouth.
But yeah, the Lady Diana story was
the main one that stands out.
- [cameras clicking]
- [overlapping chatter and clamor]
He said that he was called in
when Lady Diana got in a car accident.
- [siren blares]
- [cop] Stop!
[Sarah] He didn't get there in time,
but had he, he could have saved her life.
We're like the starstruck,
you know, little kids.
I mean, given that, you know,
he was on television, right,
for cutting edge, um,
you know, medical advancement,
we thought if anybody was
gonna be treating these folks,
it just seemed like it made sense.
[pensive instrumental music playing]
Paolo, he put a lot of trust into me,
but it was not
a real friendship with Paolo.
I don't know if anyone
could get really close to him.
There was always a distance.
We did go out for dinner
together with other team members.
[Kalle on video] Actually,
it wasn't related to the surgery
[Kalle] And he was always
on the phone during the dinner,
so it was hard to get, you know,
a broader picture about who Paolo was.
[Oscar] To be this surgeon that flies
around and really doesn't have a home
I honestly have really
not heard about this before. Or later.
It is very strange, this,
but at the Karolinska,
everybody saw that Paolo was never there.
And then when Paolo came,
it was almost like the owner
of the dog comes home
after a long trip, you know, with a bone.
Everything in that lab group
was about pleasing Paolo.
[train wheels clacking on tracks]
[Belina] We started talking about
when we wanted to get married
and we picked July 11th, 2015.
Paolo said to me, "I want you to let me
take over the planning of the wedding,
and I don't want you
to ask any questions."
"Some things you'll know about,
but most of it, leave it to me."
"Just trust me."
My initial reaction was
[scoffs] "What? No."
But everybody said to me,
"You know he has incredible taste."
"All of his surprises
are perfection, elaborate, romantic."
"He's not gonna get this wrong."
And so I said, "Okay."
"Why not?"
[light instrumental music plays]
As soon as Paolo proposed,
he told me that he wanted to have
a big, Catholic wedding in Italy.
[Paolo] Hi, my love.
I just saw your beautiful pictures
and thank you so much. Wow. [chuckles]
They are really beautiful
and do so much good.
I, um
I found it the most sensitive to me,
um is the one where you and I
are in the church with the priest.
That's a picture. [chuckles]
And, um
I just dreamed.
My first question was,
"How's that gonna work?"
"I'm not Catholic."
I don't know a lot about
the Catholic religion,
but I do know it's not easy
to get married in the Catholic Church
if you're not Catholic.
And also, we're both divorcees.
Paolo said, "Don't worry about it.
I'm going to go to Rome,
and talk to my contacts there."
"Okay. Who's that?"
And he told me
he was going to the Vatican.
I was "Okay."
- [bells tolling]
- [dramatic notes resonate and build]
He told me he had connections.
As the leading
cardiothoracic surgeon in Italy,
he had been called to the Vatican
several times for consultations.
I said, "What are you gonna do?"
He said, "I'm gonna ask them
if they can help us, you know,
find a priest that would marry us."
I get a phone call and he said,
"Well, I have great news."
"I actually met
with Pope Francis himself."
I'm kind of like, "Wait, what?"
[cheers and applause]
I really thought he was pulling my leg.
But he says to me,
"You know that secret network
of doctors that I told you about?"
"The pope is one of my patients."
"And he really likes me."
I said, "Come on, Paolo, the pope
doesn't marry people. Don't be silly."
And he's like, "No, my love,
the pope wants to marry us himself."
And the first thing I did was google,
"Does the pope marry people?"
And what immediately pops up,
the pope had just married 20 couples
at the Vatican one month earlier.
And these were couples
that were "living in sin,"
that had children out of wedlock.
So, it turns out
the pope can marry people if he wants to.
[congregation singing choral hymn]
[Matt] It sounded
so wild and so, like, crazy.
That's about as, you know,
far-fetched as it gets, obviously.
But Paolo explained what his relationship
basically was with the Vatican.
Uh, and being, you know,
the level of doctor that he was,
his Italian background
- I mean, it seemed to make sense, right?
- Made sense.
- It just
- Yeah, we were like
Our soon-to-be brother-in-law
is the pope's doctor. [chuckles]
[tense music playing]
[Oscar] People do trust their surgeon.
And trust, in our business especially,
you know, when it comes
to the patient, it's everything.
[Kalle] Being part in the team
around Paolo Macchiarini,
I wanted to still believe
in the concept of the plastic airways
combined with the stem cells.
Not only me,
but a lot of other persons as well.
We put all the trust in Paolo Macchiarini.
But by the spring of 2013,
it was not actually going that well.
Here at the Karolinska,
Paolo Macchiarini operated on
three patients with the plastic windpipes.
The first person ever
to get this plastic windpipe
was a man called
Andemariam Beyene from Iceland.
Shortly after that it was Chris Lyles
from United States.
He had already died
early on after the operation.
And the third patient was Yesim Cetir.
She came to the Karolinska from Türkiye.
All of them got severe complications
related to the plastic airways.
Yesim Cetir, she actually was suffocating.
And the problems became extremely severe
directly after this operation.
[dramatic notes rise and fade]
[Matthias Corbascio]
The first time that I met Yesim
was when she had a catastrophe in the ICU.
And I was called in there
on an emergency alarm.
Her heart had stopped,
and she wasn't breathing.
And Kalle and I put her
on a heart-lung machine.
[tense music builds]
Honest people don't suspect dishonesty.
And that's why we get tricked.
Paolo met Yesim in Türkiye,
and recruited her to come to Karolinska
for a treatment to replace her airway
with his plastic windpipe.
She had this damaged airway.
She had problems with coughing,
and she had some mucus secretions,
and that was socially disturbing for her.
But it was nothing, actually,
that could would limit her
living a pretty normal life.
She flew there on a normal airplane,
and went to Burger King, had a burger,
got on the bus,
and took the bus to Karolinska.
And that's when her horror story started.
Paolo was really not interested
in being a part of her care
after the initial
procedures were performed.
He was absent, more or less.
[Kalle] Paolo didn't want to see
these complications.
He couldn't see that there was
any problem with this plastic airway.
So, for him, it worked perfectly well.
[line winding swiftly]
Paolo left Yesim Cetir for her destiny.
And watching Yesim suffering
from these plastic airways
and the consequences
of the plastic airways,
this was very tough for me.
On a personal level.
[dramatic notes rising]
Meanwhile, the first patient, Andemariam,
was not really doing well either.
But he was in Iceland,
so no one of us knew about this.
And Paolo didn't say anything.
It was reported from Paolo
and other people around him in the lab
that he was doing very well
and this was working
and he went back
to the university and, you know
Like a really fairy-tale story.
[dramatic notes rise and fade out]
[Kalle] But then, Andemariam
was referred back to Karolinska.
And when we got his case presented to us,
we realized that he was facing
the same problems as Yesim Cetir.
He had several surgeries
to keep the airway open.
He died after struggling for many months
with all the complications
that was related to the plastic airway.
Yesim Cetir was kept alive for more than
four and a half years in intensive care.
In total, she had 191 surgical procedures
performed in our department.
She had to have her airway
cleaned every fourth hour for years.
It's a terribly torturous procedure.
When I heard, actually,
that Yesim Cetir has died,
at that time I felt relief.
Finally, she can go to rest.
- [horns honking]
- [sirens wailing faintly]
[Benita] Paolo had very specifically
instructed me to keep this under wraps,
about the wedding and the pope.
He said this will not
be announced by the Vatican
until maybe the day we're getting married,
the morning of the wedding.
Because this cannot get leaked.
If it's leaked that the pope
is going to marry two divorcees
in a very grandiose public ceremony,
then it's dangerous for the pope.
This is too controversial.
And he was very insistent about that.
You can tell the people closest to you,
but they cannot tell anybody.
Once I agreed
that the pope could marry us,
I said, "Where is this gonna happen?
[pleasant music playing]
Paolo said there's this place called
Castel Gandolfo that's outside of Rome.
It's the pope's summer residence,
and it's absolutely beautiful,
it's charming,
and it's just breathtaking.
And he said the pope said
he can marry us there.
And then Paolo tells me
he's renting a castle
for all of our guests to stay in,
and that was something
I was allowed to tell
our closest family and friends.
[Matt] Yeah, it was just like
another big "drop the bomb."
This is just getting crazier and crazier.
It was definitely on the scale
of what felt like a royal wedding.
And then all kinds of world leaders
get added to the list.
[cheers and applause]
The Clintons are coming, which made sense
because Paolo
was friends with Bill Clinton.
- The Obamas.
- [cheers and applause]
Sarkozy from France.
[cheers and applause]
The one we argued about
was Putin from Russia.
And I said,
"I don't want Putin at my wedding."
Also, "You really think Putin's
gonna be at the same wedding
as the Clintons and the Obamas? Come on."
[crowd singing in Russian]
And he dismissed that by saying,
"Yeah, he won't come."
"But because I'm doing
this big clinical trial in Russia,
you're talking about
a multimillion-dollar grant."
He said, "I have to invite him."
And Paolo kept adding people.
He had arranged
for Andrea Bocelli to perform
as I was coming down the aisle,
which was incredible.
He told me that Elton John
would perform that night for us.
It was a mind-boggling
guest list, you know.
Now it's becoming this giant event.
People were jokingly
calling me Princess Diana.
I did feel a little bit like a princess.
We invited, um,
not only our friends and family
and these dignitaries and celebrities,
but the families
of some of Paolo's patients who died
were invited to the wedding because
Paolo had become quite close to them.
A couple of years after Chris's passing,
one day I went to my mailbox
and opened it up
and there was this white box
that, um, had my name
written in gold on it.
It was just beautiful.
[chuckles] It was to be
the wedding of the century.
So we had to buy gowns,
and it was more than one day.
You know, hobnobbing
with with, uh, celebrities,
presidents, and dignitaries.
[Eria] It was like, "Okay,
we're going to get married in Italy."
And then I thought, "I'm going to Italy."
"I'm going to get my gown
and I'm going to" And we did.
I bought my gown, and I was ready to go.
I was just excited for them.
I was awestruck.
You know, I mean, who was I
to be getting an invitation like
Like this? You're in the clouds.
To the point where,
how can you really think straight?
[Benita] As we were planning the wedding,
obviously, one of the questions is,
where are we going to live?
This had been a long-distance romance.
Then Paolo said, "Maybe you should
come and live in Barcelona."
Initially I wasn't sure about that
because it meant pulling my daughter,
you know, out of her school,
out of her world,
and it also meant me leaving my job,
which was a huge decision for me.
But, you know, we talked about it
quite a bit, and he didn't push.
Hi, my love.
I had no chance to, um
write you, um, or send you a video before
because I was a little bit busy,
but this doesn't mean
that I didn't thought at you.
[Benita] He sent me
so many videos from Barcelona.
He has a beautiful house there
that sits up on top of a hill
in this seaside community
with gorgeous, expansive views.
[Paolo] I wish you a beautiful
and sweet good morning and
just to make you understand that this is
the place where you belong, my love.
And this is the place where you and I
will live for the rest of our life.
I love you.
I finally, one day, just said to him,
"You know what?"
"I've made up my mind.
We're coming to Barcelona."
And he was absolutely elated, you know?
And I was excited too.
It just kind of fit
the adventure of being with Paolo.
[tense music builds slowly]
I do remember
when I finally really understood
that this was complete bogus.
It was at a lecture that Paolo was giving
to a bunch of visiting scientists
on his windpipe surgeries.
[dramatic notes resonate]
The natural progression is that
you go from animal to human,
and you test it first
in the animal for a long time,
and then you do the experiment on humans.
He was showing data
and talking about his wonderful research.
If he had had data
on a plastic windpipe in an animal,
he should have showed it then.
But he jumped straight to the results
of his surgeries on human patients.
[dramatic notes rise and fade]
I realize at that point
that he has skipped a major chapter.
He should be showing us
a plastic windpipe,
long-term survival in an animal
before you show the human beings.
That's all gone.
There was this gigantic leap,
and then I understood, oh my God.
He hasn't done this in an animal yet.
[dramatic notes rise and fade out]
[Kalle] When we started to dig into
the archives of medical publications,
we couldn't find anything.
There was not a single paper
that described how
these plastic airways worked in animals.
There was basically no data at all.
We all felt like there was
a chill down our spine.
Paolo had bypassed
all laws, rules, regulations,
but also all, sort of, moral or ethical
compasses that we can have.
[tense musical notes rise and fade out]
[Kalle] We had information on the patients
that had been operated here at Karolinska,
but I knew that Paolo, in parallel,
had operated on patients,
we knew, in Russia.
We didn't know what happened to them.
[suspenseful music playing]
So I arranged a meeting with Paolo.
It was just me and him
in the library.
Usually, I'm not a nervous guy.
But there, I was extremely nervous.
For me, he was, you know,
a person, really, to look up to.
I tried to gain some courage
to ask him the question
that was nagging me,
and I basically knew
the answer of the question,
but I was afraid to hear the answer.
So I asked him,
"How are the patients doing in Russia?"
[pensive music playing]
He said, "Which patients?"
"The patients that received
the plastic airways."
It was extremely tense.
And he just said,
"It's basically none of your business."
And then he raised from the sofa
and just left the library.
With that answer,
I felt totally empty.
It became quite obvious to me then
that Paolo is hiding something here.
And I decided, there and then,
that now I'm going to prove
to the world
that these plastic airways,
they don't work.
[dramatic notes rise and fade]
After having been to Russia,
it was clear that we were onto something
that actually needed looking into.
We decided to make a documentary film
to expose what Macchiarini was doing.
I called the producer
of the Julia Tuulik documentary.
And said, "Could we get permission
to use footage from the documentary?"
He said, "Fine.
It's a success story. Why not?"
And then I asked him, "Did you actually
perhaps save any uncut footage?"
"Any raw material?"
"Yes, we saved all of it. Fifty hours."
We watched through all of this footage.
Very often, when you make a film,
you can have a microphone on,
and the camera is running,
even though you're not filming.
And what we realize is that,
behind the scenes,
there is so much that has been filmed,
perhaps by accident,
which shows an entirely different story
of what occurs with Julia.
[Bosse] I remember
the first time I saw the footage.
We could actually see Paolo
walking, real time, on the beach,
talking about his surgeries at the time
when all this was happening.
It was shot in April, May 2012.
Two surgeries had
already taken place in Stockholm.
One of them was Andemariam Beyene.
And, at that time,
Macchiarini was claiming
that Andemariam was doing fine.
But in this particular piece of footage,
he says something quite different.
[Paolo] When I felt the scaffolds,
they were completely welded wrong.
They were like the POSS PCU material
that we implanted by Mr. Beyene.
So I think that
we need to redo everything again.
Now we lost two weeks.
This proved that he actually knew
uh, how poorly his, um,
surgeries had done.
Andemariam had serious problems,
so before Julia
was going to have her implant,
Paolo knew that his implants didn't work.
[mother] Do you want something?
A cup of tea? Coffee?
There was a lot of footage
from the three days
preceding the surgery on Julia.
A couple days before the surgery,
they need an emergency meeting.
- Let's go to, uh
- Just short break.
And we go to lab
because we have to decide.
Do you know the problem?
No. What is your problem?
We must start with the second session.
[Paolo] Ah.
When they were just about
to put the implant into Julia,
they had a new batch of plastic implants,
and none of the implants were was okay.
One of the prostheses is rather short.
- [Paolo] Uh-huh.
- The second one, rather weak.
The third is probably damaged
because they find holes somewhere.
- [Paolo] Let's go down.
- Let's go.
[in German] The problem is,
it's three millimeters too short.
Where? Distally or proximally?
Distally. Proximal is fine.
I don't give a shit.
- Hmm? You don't care?
- Yes.
You can stitch through the cartilage.
[in English] In front of the camera,
Paolo decides that they proceed.
Knowing that
the plastic implants are faulty.
And his colleagues
obviously had to trust his judgment.
- [in German] And the other one?
- The other one is softer.
Soft on the distal side,
but has eight millimeters.
Is it very soft?
Yes, it is. It was so soft
that I wouldn't use that one.
- [Paolo] So let's use the other one.
- The three-millimeter one?
[woman speaking in Russian indistinctly]
Would you like to take a look?
We don't have much choice.
[in English] This was a degree of
callousness that was almost criminal.
It's disgusting, it's incriminating,
and quite awful to watch.
- [man speaking in Russian]
- [Paolo] Start with the suction.
[surgeon] Scalpel.
[Bosse] Before that point,
my theory was that,
well, maybe his implants
hadn't worked properly.
But that doesn't mean
that he is a bad man,
or that his general idea was bad.
[in Spanish] No. No, don't cry.
Don't cry.
[in English] I really didn't expect that
Paolo would have knowingly inserted
uh, a non-functioning piece of plastic
into somebody's throat.
I mean, watching Julia
go through this procedure
is like almost seeing,
like, a lamb being sacrificed.
[somber instrumental music playing]
- [surgeon 1 in Russian] The upper part
- [Paolo] Uh-huh.
[surgeon 1] What is the fold?
It has folded over and become completely
[surgeon 2] What can be done about it?
- [surgeon 1] Nothing.
- [surgeon 2 speaking in Russian]
- [Paolo in English] It is not collapsing.
- [surgeon 1] I just keep Ah.
It's okay. It's not collapsed,
it's just bended.
A little bended. But it's okay.
[indistinct chatter]
[Julia coughing harshly]
[struggling to speak]
[in Spanish] Is the prosthesis no good?
The prosthesis is really good.
Why does it?
[in Russian] Has the prosthesis
folded over badly?
It's good.
[Julia] I can hardly get any air.
[in English] We realized the suffering
and the pain that had been caused,
and you realize what the outcome will be,
and you can see her
being led to her death.
[Benita] I made this decision to move
onto this new, exciting life in Spain.
I mean, it all sounded very romantic.
My daughter and I were both
very excited about this new adventure.
But I had a lot of trepidation about it.
He had flown me all over the world.
All these magical trips
to all these beautiful places.
I still hadn't been to Barcelona.
As thrilled as I was
about living in Europe
and moving to this
beautiful house in Barcelona,
I also had a ton of questions,
you know? Um
And I wanted to see the house.
My daughter and I are going to
give up everything in New York,
I am going to quit my job of 17 years,
and we're going to ride off
into the sunset with him.
This is a big deal.
And I kept saying to him,
"Who the hell marries a man
without seeing where they're going to live
after the wedding? It makes no sense."
But every single time
we had a trip planned to Barcelona,
it got cancelled at the last minute.
He always had an emergency surgery.
This happened three or four times.
And I'm starting to have all this anxiety.
Because now we're getting
closer to the wedding,
and there are a lot of things
that have not been taken care of yet.
There are a lot of unfinished things.
[light instrumental music plays]
[Erica] We were just getting excited
preparing for this wedding over in Italy.
It was going to be amazing. [laughs]
I was always
a very detail-oriented person.
I wanted to know
exactly where we were going,
where we were staying, what was happening,
and so I actually made contact with the
I don't even know if it was a hotel.
It was like a castle.
It was some crazy castle.
And they had no idea
what I was talking about.
At that point,
we'd bought airfare tickets, so
And I just said,
"I need more information about
where I'm staying and what's going on."
And they said, "Well, I don't know
what you're talking about."
"There is no uh, nothing
um, that has been reserved."
[phone chimes]
And so I sent Benita a message.
[Benita] Erica contacted me one day.
And I asked Paolo and he just said,
"Oh, you know."
"There's been a change of staff.
It's no big deal," you know.
"She just didn't reach the right person."
Okay, but there were
these little things happening
that were starting to nag at me.
- [siren blaring]
- [dramatic music playing]
On the right here
is Karolinska University Hospital.
And on the left,
that main building right there,
which kind of looks like a boat,
that's the Karolinska Institute.
And that's where the head
of the university sits.
It's fucking huge.
It's like the Vatican.
It's a state inside the state.
It's the most expensive hospital
in the world.
[Kalle] I decided
to contact my colleagues,
Matthias and Oscar.
And we all got together.
We need to gather information
against Paolo Macchiarini's work.
Evidence that will convince
the leadership of KI
to block Paolo.
It was a moment
where we knew there's no turning back.
And this could not be done
that openly either.
This was really, really sensitive.
We dared to question their competence
because, at the end of the day,
these guys gave Paolo this job.
And if they got tricked by him,
they're obviously incompetent.
We definitely risked getting fired.
[Oscar] The Karolinska in Sweden is
so powerful and has so much influence.
So if you have them against you,
it's very, very tough.
[Kalle] We made up fake names
and secret emails
based on these fake names.
And we could never communicate
using our own names anymore.
It was a little bit
like a spy novel, actually.
[tense music playing]
This is my old apartment, right here.
It's up there on the top floor.
That's where we would have
all our meetings.
We'd sit on my couch.
That's where we did all the dirty work.
[tense music builds]
[Kalle] We went through all
the medical records of these patients.
We discovered that one of the biopsies
that were harvested
on the first patient, Andemariam,
Paolo switched samples.
So the data looked
much better than it was in reality.
This was research fraud.
We were afraid that Karolinska
were gonna start destroying evidence.
Late one evening, we went to the hospital
and made backups.
[Kalle] We succeeded to get video clips
of the examinations
of the inside of the airways.
When we looked at
the video clips of Andemariam,
it was quite devastating.
We could basically see
this, uh nude, plastic tube.
It was just whitish.
We couldn't see any mucus membrane at all.
The plastic windpipe
was actually collapsing
and rotting inside the body of Andemariam.
One of the claims
was that these plastic airways
were bathed with stem cells,
and that these stem cells
would grow on the airway
and become living tissue.
There were no stem cells on it.
It wasn't living.
It was just a plastic tube.
And that's what doomed
these patients from day one.
Everything, basically, was faked.
What was described in the medical
journals was not really the truth.
- [dramatic notes rise and fade out]
- It was a lie.
[Matthias] We wrote a report
where we mapped out
all the falsifications and crimes
that had been committed
and sent it in
to the vice-chancellor of Karolinska.
Nothing happened.
It was completely silent.
[Kalle] I felt like a fool that believed
in Paolo and in this method.
As a clinician,
I also felt very, very lonely
being one of the optimistic persons
that thought,
basically, that we should
be able to generate new organs.
At that time,
I really understand that Paolo is
a ruthless con man.
[dramatic notes build to crescendo]
[dramatic music playing]
[Oscar] Then, somehow, this story
got leaked to the New York Times.
It was really, really bad
for the Karolinska, that article.
That was one of the defining moments.
We believed that, finally,
Paolo will be convicted
for research misconduct.
[soaring notes elevate and fade out]
[Benita] I wake up and there's a headline
about Paolo in the New York Times
that he's being accused
of scientific misconduct.
It was like one of those,
"Am I seeing this right?
Let me rub my eyes."
And I read the article,
and it didn't really sound good.
He had been alluding to some issues
that he was having at work in Sweden,
and he was very vague.
He just said that he had enemies,
and that there were people
that wanted to take him down.
He would always talk about the fact
that when you are a pioneer in anything,
and particularly in science,
that there's a lot of
professional jealousy
and that it can get quite ugly.
But this was the first I'd heard about
any allegations of scientific misconduct,
and I'm thinking,
"What the hell does this mean?
What does this mean for his career?"
"What does this mean for us?"
"For our wedding?"
Paolo was coming to California
to spend Thanksgiving with my family.
Once something like this is in
the New York Times, it's everywhere.
So he's getting inundated with emails
and phone calls and press requests.
- [alert chimes]
- [clicking]
And I had never seen Paolo
like this before.
His whole demeanor changed.
He was depressed. He was dejected.
He was extremely worried
about the ramifications of this.
He kept talking about,
"This is going to ruin my reputation.
This is gonna ruin my career."
I basically jumped in the trenches
to help him.
I believed that he was being
unfairly maligned,
and I needed to do
whatever I could to help him.
He's on one computer,
I'm on another computer,
and I'm answering these requests for him.
I'm guiding him through what to say,
what to not say, how to answer,
and he's he's a mess.
He breaks down in tears a few times,
and he seems absolutely
devastated by this.
And I felt horribly for him.
I love the man, and I'm concerned.
I think he was quite desperate
that weekend.
I think he felt like the world
was starting to cave in around him,
and he was scared.
And I was kind of there holding his hand
and saying, "We got this. We can do this."
It's difficult.
It's difficult to be attacked,
be on the front pages and, uh
Um, at least if we would have
done something wrong
then I would understand it, but, uh
I believe we didn't.
[Matthias] When the New York Times article
came out, I thought it was over for Paolo.
I thought that would be it.
And it didn't turn out as we had thought.
[Oscar] After that,
the Karolinska declared war on us.
It turned into a living nightmare.
They really tried to get us fired.
We started to understand that
the Karolinska were gonna defend Paolo
no matter the cost sort of,
and no matter the truth.
[Kalle] Paolo had full support
from the leadership of Karolinska.
They continued with the cover-up.
So they spent the whole summer of 2015
making up a story
that Paolo has not performed
any kind of research misconduct.
[cameras clicking]
And that was presented to the media.
The Karolinska said that
they were gonna take in security guards
to keep us away from
that press conference.
My guess was that
Karolinska is gonna free Paolo.
And they did.
[man in Swedish] In view
of the results of the investigation,
we now have a much
clearer picture of what has been going on.
Based on the material gathered,
the Karolinska Institute has established
that he is not guilty
of research misconduct.
[Kalle in English] They said that
all this stuff is based on, actually,
a vendetta between me,
myself, and Paolo Macchiarini.
So, "Don't take any notice of this."
They lied and they knew it.
[in Swedish] I think it's important
to point out that Paolo Macchiarini
has not been found guilty
of misconduct in his research.
And this means he has the trust
of the Karolinska Institute.
[dramatic music plays]
[Kalle in English] We were just so angry.
And we said, "To hell with Karolinska."
It was a really tough time for us.
They had already filed a police complaint
against us for criminal charges.
[Kalle] They said that we have leaked
confidential patient data.
[Matthias] I was called
into the police station.
I was brought into this interrogation room
and sat down.
I mean, I was expecting to get fired.
But I wasn't expected
to end up at the police station
in a locked room being interrogated.
[somber music playing]
[Kalle] It was feeling like
one of the worst times in my life.
It felt very hopeless.
I felt, uh, very lonely at that time.
So I was really, uh, feeling
that this is the end of everything.
Uh, I became sort of the
the black sheep, uh
at Karolinska.
It felt like there was no way out.
I was thinking of
perhaps I should end everything.
It was pretty dark.
[sirens wailing faintly]
[Benita] My last day at work
was May 13th, 2015.
And it was emotional.
The next day, I had arranged
with a group of girlfriends to go to a spa
and kind of have a girls' day.
We all put our phones away.
I had a great massage. I was very relaxed.
And I come out of the spa,
and I'm at the desk paying,
and I pull my phone casually
out of my purse,
I'm scrolling through my phone,
and there's one in a subject line
that just says, "the pope."
It's from a colleague at work
and it just said,
"The pope is going to be
in South America on July 11."
"He's not going to be in Italy."
And this trip has been planned
for a very long time.
When I read that, instantly, I felt sick.
I felt like somebody
punched me in the stomach.
Paolo is due to arrive in New York,
and I'm a nervous wreck.
I have so many questions.
Like it or not,
love is a little bit blind,
and I think it takes a while
for the head and the heart
to catch up with each other.
And I think I had known in my head
for a while that something wasn't right,
but I didn't want to believe it.
And somehow, in that instant,
I just knew my whole world
was about to cave in.
[tense music plays]
[dramatic notes resonate and fade]
[alerts whooshing]
I'm calling him,
and, you know, it takes him
a few minutes to get back to me.
And he finally calls me,
and I said, "What the hell is happening?"
And he said, "Calm down, my love."
"I just found this out as well.
I don't have any idea what's going on."
"I'm as upset as you are.
I'm going to get to the bottom of this."
"I don't know. I'm so sorry.
Just calm down and hold on."
He texts me that he's getting out
of the taxi downstairs.
I'm literally standing in my kitchen,
closing my eyes, taking deep breaths,
and trying to brace myself,
'cause I don't know what's gonna happen.
The doorbell rings, and I open the door.
And Paolo is standing there
in one of his beautiful suit jackets,
and he says, "Hi, my love."
And I said, "Hi, my love?"
I'm like, what the hell?
And I start screaming. Just wailing.
Screaming. Relentless.
"Why are you lying to me? Who are you?"
"What's wrong with you?
Why would you do this to me?"
I He kept trying to
get closer to me, you know?
Putting his arm out to touch my hand,
and I had been screaming at him.
Literally screaming at him,
"Get the fuck away from me."
"Do not touch me."
And now I back up against the fridge, um
And he sort of gingerly steps, you know,
one foot closer to me, and then two,
and he's about two feet in front of me.
The thing that struck me the most
about him was how stoic he was.
Totally unflappable. Just calm.
Like, waiting for the storm to stop.
You know? Nothing rocks this man.
"Why would I lie to you?"
"What possible reason
would I have to lie to you?"
"I've told you things
I've never told anybody else."
"And I was never going to tell you this,
and I shouldn't be telling you this,
but I feel like now
I have to tell you the whole story."
[cameras clicking]
He says, "You remember that secret
network of doctors that I told you about?"
And I said, "Yes."
"Well, I left out
a very important part of the story."
[dramatic notes rise and fade out]
"This secret network of doctors
is actually operated by the CIA."
[dramatic notes resonate]
And then he says,
"There's something else."
"I really don't know
how to tell you this."
"The doctor thing is a cover."
"My real job for the CIA
is I am a sniper."
[dramatic note soars and fades out]
I mean, it was crazy tunes.
It was crazy land.
And at that moment,
it was clear as can be.
I just looked at him,
and in my head I'm thinking,
"I have no idea who this man is."
Something is so wrong here.
I just turned my head and I said,
"Why did you pick me?"
"Why me?"
"It was inevitable."
"At some point, sooner or later,
I was going to start
asking you questions."
"It was bound to happen.
I'm a journalist."
And all he did was,
he cocks his head,
he gives that same
little flirty smile he gave me
the very first time I saw him in Boston.
And he looked at me,
and he said, "I know."
"That's why I love you so much."
And immediately, a chill.
Like, it almost shook my whole body,
a chill went down
my whole back of my body.
From the top of my head,
down my spine, to my toes.
And I just was terrified.
You know, I thought, "What the hell?"
And then I thought, "He's enjoying this."
"This is a thrill for him."
He picked me because I'm a journalist.
And I need to find out why.
[dramatic music playing]
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