Paolo Macchiarini Wiki, Age, Girlfriend, Wife, Family, Biography & More

Paolo Macchiarini

Paolo Macchiarini is a Swiss thoracic surgeon and former regenerative medicine researcher. He is known for engaging in research fraud and displaying manipulative behaviour. He has been accused of unethically conducting experimental surgeries, including procedures on relatively healthy patients. Seven out of the eight patients who underwent one of his synthetic trachea transplants reportedly faced fatal outcomes. In 2023, a documentary titled ‘Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife’ was released on Netflix, which is based on Paolo’s works in the field of regenerative medicine.


Paolo Macchiarini was born on Friday, 22 August 1958 (age 65 years; as of 2023) in Basel, Switzerland. Her zodiac sign is Leo. He earned his medical degree (equivalent to MD) from the Medical School of the University of Pisa (UniPi) in 1986 and later obtained a Master of Surgery in 1991. In 1989, he studied statistics in clinical research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Macchiarini received degree certificates, including a master’s in organ and tissue transplantation dated 1994 and a doctorate in the same field dated 1997, from the University of Franche-Comté in France. [1]Citizens for Responsible Care and Research

Physical Appearance

Height (approx.): 5′ 9″

Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper

Eye Colour: Black

Paolo Macchiarini with Benita Alexander

Paolo Macchiarini with Benita Alexander


Parents & Siblings

He was born to Italian parents. [2]Vanity Fair

Wife & Children

In 1986, Paolo got married to an Italian woman named Emanuela Pecchia. The couple has two children, a boy and a girl. [3]Vanity Fair Apparently, he has 5 children in all. In 2013, he revealed that he had been separated from his wife; however, their divorce was not legal at that time. [4]YouTube – ABC News


In 2013, Paolo Macchiarini began to date Benita Alexander, an NBC News producer, while he had separated from his wife Emanuela Pecchia. [5]YouTube – ABC News [6]Good Morning America

Paolo Macchiarini with Benita Alexander

Paolo Macchiarini with Benita Alexander


On 25 December 2013, Paolo Macchiarini got engaged to his girlfriend Benita Alexander.

An engagement day photo of Paolo Macchiarini and Benita Alexander

An engagement day photo of Paolo Macchiarini and Benita Alexander


He worked as an assistant professor at the University of Pisa from 1990 to 1992. Hannover Medical School in Germany once said that he never had a salaried position there, he served as the head of the department of thoracic and vascular surgery at the Heidehaus Hannover Hospital from 1999 to 2004. Macchiarini held a position as an investigator at the Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques-Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas in Barcelona, Spain, from 2006 to 2009. During this time, he was affiliated with the University of Barcelona and worked at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona. He had an honorary appointment as a visiting professor at University College London from 2009 to 2014. Starting in 2010, he became a consultant and project manager at University Hospital Careggi (AOUC). In the same year, Macchiarini took on a visiting professorship at the Karolinska Institute (KI) in Stockholm and a part-time surgical position at the affiliated university hospital. In 2013, KI ended its clinical relationship with Macchiarini but allowed him to continue as a researcher. However, in February 2016, the university decided not to renew his research contract, terminating it the following month. [7]Nature Paolo established connections in Russia after giving a master class in 2010, leading to a trachea transplant he performed there. This event, covered widely in Russian media, resulted in his 2011 appointment at Kuban State Medical University. The university and the Russian government-funded this position, accompanied by an honorary doctorate. He moved to Kazan Federal University in 2016, taking the grant money with him; however, the university terminated his research project in April 2017. [8]Science

Some notable Trachea Surgeries done by Paolo

Keziah Shorten

In 2010, Macchiarini conducted a transplant surgery on his patient Keziah Shorten, who had trachea cancer; however, the transplant was not successful, and the following year, a synthetic trachea was implanted at University College Hospital London for palliative care. In 2011, she was discharged and could spend Christmas at home with her family, but she eventually succumbed to her underlying disease. [9]BBC

Paolo Macchiarini with Keziah Shorten (on bed) after her trachea transplant surgery

Paolo Macchiarini with Keziah Shorten (on bed) after her trachea transplant surgery

Alexander Zozulya

In June 2012, Macchiarini performed another surgery to implant a second synthetic seeded trachea on Alexander Zozulya. Zozulya had a tracheostomy due to a car accident, and his life was not in immediate danger. [10]New Scientist Following complications from the first implant in 2012, a second surgery was conducted in November 2013. Zozulya passed away in February 2014 under unclear circumstances. [11]BBC

Sadiq Kanaan

In August 2013, Sadiq Kanaan underwent a complete synthetic seeded tracheal implant procedure performed by Macchiarini at Kuban State Medical University. [12]BBC He passed away later that same year. [13]RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Dmitri Onogda

In June 2014, Macchiarini conducted a procedure to implant a fully synthetic seeded trachea in Dmitri Onogda at Kuban State Medical University. The initial implant failed, and it was subsequently replaced. As of 2017, Dmitri Onogda was reported to be still alive. [14]BBC [15]RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Dmitri Onogda

Dmitri Onogda


Extortion of University Hospital Careggi’s patient

In 2012, Macchiarini faced arrest in Italy on charges of soliciting money from patients at AOUC to accelerate their procedures. [16]Retraction Watch The charges were dismissed in May 2015, and the prosecutor’s appeal was also dismissed in September 2015. [17]Corriere Fiorentino

Research Misconduct

In 2014, four former colleagues and co-authors accused Macchiarini of falsifying claims in his research at Karolinska Institute (KI). The following April, KI’s ethics committee responded to these allegations related to research ethics and peer review at The Lancet, concluding that they were groundless. [18]Retraction Watch KI had enlisted an external expert, Bengt Gerdin, to assess the allegations, examining the reported outcomes against the hospital’s medical records. The university released Gerdin’s report in May 2015, revealing that Macchiarini had engaged in research misconduct across seven papers. This included not obtaining ethical approval for certain procedures, misrepresenting the results of some operations, and inaccuracies in work involving animals. [19]Nature In August 2015, following an assessment of the findings and a response from Macchiarini, KI Vice-Chancellor Anders Hamsten concluded that Macchiarini had acted ‘without due care’ but did not find evidence of misconduct. [20]Retraction Watch

Con Man

In January 2016, an article was published by a popular American magazine, which described the courtship and alleged marriage arrangements involving NBC News producer Benita Alexander and Paolo Macchiarini. In 2013, Benita was assigned by NBC News to produce a documentary called ‘A Leap of Faith’ about Paolo. During the project, she became romantically involved with him, only to discover in 2015 that he had been married for thirty years, including the entire period of their courtship. The article details Macchiarini’s lies about being a surgeon to celebrities and world leaders, including claims of associations with former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and plans for an extravagant wedding with Pope Francis officiating, Andrea Bocelli and Elton John performing, Enoteca Pinchiorri catering, and numerous celebrities attending. [21]Vanity Fair [22]Rolling Stone Macchiarini allegedly claimed that Pope Francis had given his blessing for their wedding, which the Pope’s spokesperson denied, stating that the Pope did not know anyone by that name and would not have officiated such an event. [23]The Guardian

Criminal Investigations and Convictions

  • In June 2016, Swedish police initiated an investigation to determine if Macchiarini could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Following a one-year medico-legal investigation, the attorney general’s office announced in October 2017 that Macchiarini had been negligent in four of the five cases investigated, citing the use of devices and procedures lacking sufficient evidence. However, they stated that a crime couldn’t be proven, as the patients might have died under any other treatment. [24]Reuters [25]Retraction Watch
  • In 2019, an Italian court handed Paolo a sixteen-month prison sentence for abuse of office and forging documents. However, he was later acquitted of all charges by the Supreme Court. [26]RaiNews


  • In August 2021, the third season of the Dr. Death podcast released a six-episode season titled ‘Miracle Man,’ focusing on Paolo Macchiarini. The podcast explores allegations of ethical misconduct and manipulation in Macchiarini’s medical practices, as well as his deception in his relationship with Alexander. The series features interviews with Benita Alexander to provide insights into the controversies surrounding Paolo. [28]Rolling Stone

    Poster of the 2021 podcast 'Dr. Death'

    Poster of the 2021 podcast ‘Dr. Death’

  • He is often spotted smoking cigars in public.

    Paolo Macchiarini smoking a cigar

    Paolo Macchiarini smoking a cigar

  • He consumes alcohol occasionally.

    Paolo Macchiarini holding a small glass of alcohol

    Paolo Macchiarini holding a small glass of alcohol

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