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Paolo Macchiarini: Italian surgeon convicted over windpipe transplants

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By Euronews  with AP
Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, pictured during a press conference in Florence in July 2010.
Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, pictured during a press conference in Florence in July 2010.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Lorenzo Galassi, File

An Italian surgeon has been convicted of harming patients when he carried out the world’s first stem-cell windpipe transplants.

Dr Paolo Macchiarini was found guilty of causing bodily harm to a patient and given a conditional sentence by a court in Sweden.

Prosecutors had been calling for a five-year prison sentence and argued that Macchiarini had "disregarded" his patients' health.

But the Solna District Court ruled he had not acted with premeditation and acquitted him of two other charges.

The stem-cell scientist was once considered a leading figure in regenerative medicine and made headlines in 2011 when he created the world’s first windpipe, partially made from a patient’s own stem cells.

He was alleged to have operated inappropriately on three people between 2011 and 2014 at Sweden’s leading hospital. All three patients -- from Iceland, Turkey, and the United States -- later died.

Macchiarini was not accused of killing them and had denied any criminal wrongdoing.

"There is nothing to suggest that he was unaware that the operation would cause severe bodily harm and long and severe suffering," the court said in a statement.

"Therefore, he should not be convicted of intentional assault, but of recklessly causing harm."

In December 2018, Sweden decided to reopen an investigation into the three trachea treatments carried out by Macchiarini.

The surgeon was dismissed from Stockholm’s prestigious Karolinska Institute in March 2016 for breaching medical ethics after being accused of falsifying his resume and misrepresenting his work.

In 2019, an Italian court also sentenced Macchiarini to 16 months in prison for forging documents and abuse of office.