Paolo Macchiarini’s medical interventions resulted in a staggering number of fatalities among those who became his patients, as very few managed to survive. Macchiarini, presenting himself as a pioneer in trachea transplants, claimed to have conducted groundbreaking research demonstrating the regenerative capabilities of stem cells from the host’s marrow, preventing implant rejection by the body. However, the truth about Macchiarini’s fraudulent research and dishonesty on his resume only emerged years later. Peacock’s ‘Dr. Death: Cutthroat Conman’ delves into the elaborate details of Macchiarini’s deceptive practices and presents firsthand accounts from survivors, including Dmitri Onogda.
Who is Dmitri Onogda?
Dmitri Onogda, originally from Ukraine and a citizen of Crimea, faced a life-altering event when he was involved in a car accident in 2014, resulting in significant damage to his trachea. At that time, Paolo Macchiarini had garnered a prominent reputation in the medical field, with numerous reported cases of success associated with his name. However, the growing skepticism around Macchiarini’s procedures was becoming evident. Colleagues had started noticing that many of his patients were not experiencing positive outcomes, and suspicions arose regarding the legitimacy of the trachea transplants. While an external investigation had been initiated at the Karolinska Institute, Macchiarini’s international standing remained relatively intact.
Arriving at Kazan Federal University, Dmitri Onogda’s case was brought to Paolo Macchiarini following the purported success of Yesim Cetir’s operation in Russia. Macchiarini agreed to perform the surgery on Onogda, and on June 4, 2016, the procedure took place. Macchiarini utilized a synthetic trachea obtained from Harvard Apparatus for the surgery, and alongside him, Russian doctors Vladimir Porkhanov and Igor Polyakov were also present during the operation.
Where is Dmitri Onogda Today?
In an interview with Radio Liberty, Paolo Macchiarini highlighted Dmitri Onogda’s case as his last patient in Russia, claiming that Onogda was alive and thriving. Macchiarini specifically mentioned the successful growth of epithelium using endoscopy in Onogda’s case and asserted that the Swedish television team, documenting his seeming success, intended to include Onogda in their filming. However, the reality of Onogda’s actual health condition remained largely unknown.
Radio Liberty’s investigation revealed a stark contrast to Paolo Macchiarini’s claims about Dmitri Onogda’s health. Onogda disclosed that while the operation initially appeared successful, the synthetic trachea Macchiarini implanted had to be removed within six months as it began collapsing. Despite subsequent efforts by other doctors to assist him, Macchiarini was notably absent during this challenging period. Onogda had to rely on a tube in his trachea to maintain open airways and he went back to the same condition that he was in before the synthetic trachea was implanted in his throat.
Dmitri Onogda currently lives with a tracheostomy, navigating life after the synthetic trachea surgery performed by Paolo Macchiarini. Despite the challenges he faced, Onogda has found enjoyment in activities such as computer games and a passion for cars. His case marks the conclusion of Macchiarini’s surgical interventions, as the investigation into Macchiarini’s practices exposed allegations of research fraud and medical negligence, ultimately unraveling the once-celebrated surgeon’s reputation.