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Italian celeb surgeon told to quit Swedish hospital

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Italian surgeon Paolo Macchiarini. Photo: AP Photo/Lorenzo Galassi
14:12 CET+01:00
Sweden's Karolinska Institute has said it will not allow controversial Italian star surgeon Paolo Macchiarini to stay when his contract expires later this year.

"The President of the Karolinska Institute (KI) has today decided that researcher Paolo Macchiarini's employment should not be extended when it expires," read a statement on its website on Thursday.

It added that the celebrity surgeon, famed for his pioneering use of stem cells in regenerative surgery, had been told to use the period up until November 30th, when his contract runs out, to dismantle his research team at the prestigious Stockholm hospital.

Macchiarini's career has been tainted by a series of controversies in recent years, which came to a head when Swedish public broadcaster SVT last month produced a documentary shedding new light on some of his procedures.

He rose to 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. 

Three of these surgeries were carried out at the Karolinska University Hospital, which is closely affiliated with the institute. However, two of the patients later died and one is awaiting a second transplant in the US.
 
He is also facing allegations of not having applied for ethical permission before carrying out a number of his procedures, including one on a woman in Russia, which he performed without the hospital's approval.
 
"We have found things that don't match up with the resume he submitted in 2010 when he was hired. We also suspect that the activities he engaged in in Russia may have been harmful to KI's repuation. That's the reason why he has lost our trust, which in turn is the reason why KI will not extend his employment," press secretary Claes Keisu told Sweden's TT newswire on Thursday.
 
Macchiarini was reported to the Swedish medical authorities by four doctors as early as 2014, accused of research misconduct and carrying out procedures without ethical permission, but was cleared by an internal investigation.  But KI's President Anders Hamsten has defended him until now.
 

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The announcement comes a day after the university hospital announced it would open another inquiry into the controversial surgeon's work in Stockholm. He is also facing an ongoing criminal investigation.

Macchiarini told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet earlier this week that the accusations against him were "false" but that he would not comment further until after the investigations had concluded.

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