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Crime News Dr. Death

Dr. Death: Cutthroat Conman Executive Producers on Paolo Macchiarini's Sentencing

The true crime case is the focus of Peacock’s Dr. Death’s latest season. 

By Stephanie Gomulka

If you’re getting ready to tune into Edgar Ramírez and Mandy Moore’s scripted version of Dr. Death, but want to know the real facts of the case, Peacock has you covered. 

Dr. Death: Cutthroat Conman dives into the stunning story of disgraced thoracic surgeon Paolo Macchiarini. He rose to international acclaim after touting the first synthetic organ transplant, but quickly fell from grace after whistleblowers rang the alarm, exposing “an international con man who web of lies extends decades.” 

Executive Producers Mary Robertson and John Pappas spoke to Oxygen True Crime about who viewers hear from in the documentary and what threads of the case they unravel.

RELATED: Mandy Moore Is Charmed by Edgar Ramirez's Dr. Death in Sneak Peek

Making the Peacock Documentary Dr. Death: Cutthroat Conman

The documentary features interviews with journalists, key whistleblowers in the case, and former patients, according to Pappas. 

“One exclusive interview that we had was with a patient who barely escaped the knife,” Pappas said. “Her name [is] Paloma Cabeza and she lives in Spain and her story is really harrowing cause if she hadn’t sort of listened to her gut and asked the right questions she very could have ended up like his other patients.”

Another perspective featured exclusively in the doc is Vanity Fair journalist Adam Ciralsky, who is also an executive producer on the documentary. 

“[He] was one of the first to break the news and story of Paolo’s transgressions and I think that we’re proud to have stitched together a documentary that I think asks some important questions about how someone like Paolo and Paolo specifically was able to get away with it for so long,” Roberston said. “What the conditions were in various industries and medical systems throughout Europe and the United States and perhaps what the conditions are inside all of us that sort of allow us to or encourage us to believe sometimes against our better judgement.”

Key art for Dr. Death Cutthroat Conman

One aspect of the case Pappas noticed is the “surprising lessons” of holes in the medical system. 

“How a con man can move state to state, or even country to country, and his past transgressions don’t follow him, I think, would be surprising for a lot of people to find out,” he said. 

Pappas noted the program also raises a lot of questions about human nature. “We want to believe a miracle and we will ignore facts to the contrary because we love a good story,” he explained. 

Pappas views those who decided to speak out against Macchiarini as other interesting voices to hear from. 

“Particularly, in an environment where it was not welcome,” Pappas said. “There was an intense amount of bravery shown by the whistleblowers and it really, it’s remarkable to hear their story and everything they went through just because they saw something and said something.”

The Latest in the Legal Case Against Paolo Macchiarini

In June 2023, Macchiarini was sentenced to 2 and a half years behind bars by a Swedish appeals court, according to the Associated Press.

Pappas hasn’t seen reports yet of when Macchiarini will report to serve his sentence, he noted.

In October 2023, the Swedish Supreme Court concluded “there is no reason to issue a leave to appeal” in the case, the Karolinska Institutet noted on its website. Macchiarini worked there as a surgeon and consultant

“He now has to serve his sentence,” Pappas said. “That said, he hasn’t been prosecuted outside of Sweden for anything that he may or may not have done.”

To learn more about the case, watch watch Dr. Death and Dr. Death: Cutthroat Conman on Peacock now. 

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