Entréen till Karolinska sjukhuset i Solna. Den kritiserade kirurgen Paolo Macchiarini.
KS inleder nu en utredning av de tre operationer som genomfördes på sjukhuset av Paolo Macchiarini. Credit: Foto: TT Montage: Sveriges Radio.

Karolinska University Hospital to investigate Macchiarini's operations

Now the Karolinska University Hospital also launches an investigation into the criticised surgeon Paolo Macchiarini. The aim is to "clarify the circumstances" of his operations on three patients at the hospital.

Earlier this week the Karolinska Institute initiated an investigation into how they had handled allegations that the surgeon had committed scientific fraud.

But three out of the eight operations to give patients artificial windpipes (tracheae) coated in their own stem cells, have been carried out at Karolinska University Hospital. Two of those patients have died, and the the third has for the four past year been treated in intensive care at a hospital in the US, news agency TT reports.

Karolinska University Hospital have in the past reiterated the claim that these operations were motivated, and that the patients were so ill that there was no alternative to the operation.

Now the Head Physician at the hospital, professor Nina Nelson Follin will be in charge of an investigation about the operations. News agency TT reports that independent, external experts will be part of the investigating team.

Nina Nelson Follin has been head physician at the hospital for a year, and was not working at the hospital when the operations were carried out.

The operations are controversial, and experts have questioned whether it is possible to create functioning artificial windpipes. But according to TT, the ethics of the operation and the research about them was never considered, as the Karolinska Institute stated it we not necessary, as this was mere health care, not research, even though articles had been published about them in medical journals.

When this was revealed last year, the Medical Products Agency reported the research to the police, and a criminal investigation into grievous bodily harm is underway, TT reports.

The previous chairman of the research ethics committee, professor Bo Risberg, tells TT that he thinks it is "disgusting that they are going to investigate themselves".

"Everything is so horrible. It is like they are back to the ethics from the German concentration camps in the 40s. You just want to cry," Risberg told TT.

In a debate piece in the Swedish medical periodical Läkartidningen, Risberg questions whether the Karolinska Institute is suitable to continue handing out the Nobel Prize of Medicine.

"It would be suitable if (the new?) leadership introduced a two-year-moratorium when it comes to handing out the Nobel Prize, as a worthy way to admit their mistakes, and not least as an apology to, and a way to honour, the patients who had to pay with their lives," Risberg wrote.

In an interview with TT, the new head of Karolinska University hospital, professor Nina Nelson Follin, gives this reply when asked why they will not make the investigation completely independent.

"My loyalty is with the patients. This is an assignment that I have been given by the director of the hospital and there will be significant contributions from external experts to the investigation. How many and who they are has not yet been decided," she said.

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