‘Dr. Death’ Season 2 Real-life Whistleblowers: Where Are Drs. Oscar Simonson And Thomas Fux Now?

A Peacock original, Dr. Death season 2, brings to light one of the most notorious medico-legal cases involving terrible misconduct in regenerative medicine. Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, an Italian thoracic surgeon, came up with an artificial trachea made of stem cells to replace damaged tracheas. Initially, the stem cell trachea seemed to be a medical miracle, helping Dr. Macchiarini to become a celebrity surgeon overnight, but with the help of his fellow doctors, who ultimately blew the whistles, Macchiarini’s wrongdoings came to light. In Dr. Death season 2, an eight-part drama series, the makers took creative liberties and made certain changes in the characterization of these three most important whistleblowers, Dr. Ana Lasbrey, Nathan Ganelli, and Anders Svensson, who were loosely based on the four significant real-life doctors from Karolinska. Let’s learn about these fictional characters and their similarities to the real-life ones in detail.

Spoilers Ahead


Who Was Dr. Ana Lasbrey?

Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Ana Lasbrey is a fictional addition to the storyline, while we can also say that she is an amalgamation of those doctors who worked with Macchiarini and assisted him in the transplantations. Ana met Paolo Macchiarini at a conference at the Karolinska Institute, where Paolo gave a lecture on his successful trachea transplantation on a young woman, Keziah.

Paolo claimed that his artificial trachea made of stem cells was medically certified and had been previously experimented on in lab pigs, so Ana Lasbrey initially didn’t question his methods but rather became inspired by the doctor, whom she believed to be a “Miracle Man.” As Paolo asked Ana to assist him in the transplantation, she more than agreed to participate. However, after operating on a terminal cancer patient, Andemariam Beyene, and witnessing his decaying health, Ana began to question if those tracheas were made of stem cells. Ana was an expert surgeon whom Paolo could easily rely on, but Ana realized that she could no longer rely on these tracheas right after she witnessed the deaths of her patients one after another. In Russia, when a Russian dancer, Yulia Tulik, was about to have her transplantation, Ana came to warn her, telling her not to go through the surgery and take some time, but Yulia, who was hopeful about the procedure and wanted to lead a normal life once again, fell into Paolo’s trap. Ana came back to Karolinska and teamed up with her fellow doctors, Anders and Nathan, to expose Paolo Macchiarini’s medical misconduct. Ana was the representation of those real-life doctors who put their faith in Dr. Macchiarini’s methods and wanted to give their patients hope of survival but eventually got betrayed in the process.


Who Were Nathan Gamelli And Anders Svensson?

Dr. Nathan Gamelli, a physician from Karolinska, is also a fictional representation of those who exposed Paolo’s evil deeds. While it is an entirely fictional addition, Nathan Gamelli might be loosely based on the real-life doctor Thomas Fux.

Nathan Gamelli was skeptical from the very start, as he couldn’t bring himself to believe that a plastic trachea would come alive after being placed inside a human body. Still, the use of stem cells made him reconsider, as stem cell transplantation was already becoming famous at the time. However, Gamelli was not satisfied with the idea of an artificial trachea, as Paolo never provided a scientific explanation about how it would transform into tissue inside the throat. When Gamelli directly asked Paolo, demanding an explanation, Paolo replied that it was magic. Paolo’s shady reply kept bugging Nathan, but he chose to move on with it. However, he was not like other doctors in the hospital, as he sometimes got so emotionally attached to his patients that it later hurt him. When terminal patient Christopher Lyles was admitted to the hospital and went through a trachea transplantation, Nathan became a close friend of Lyles, but after Christopher’s death, Nathan found it hard to move on with the loss. Similarly, after Turkish patient Yesim Cetir got her artificial trachea, which further worsened her condition, Nathan struggled to see her in such a state. Nathan was a genuine doctor who might not have made an extraordinary discovery in medical research, but at least he was committed to his medical oath of not harming his patients.

Nathan was eventually backed by his fellow doctor and lab researcher, Anders Svensson, who performed the lab rat tests to determine if the stem cell trachea was fit for human beings. After several tests, when the rats began to die and the results remained inconclusive, Anders began to delve deeper into the confidential records of those lab tests that Macchiarini had claimed to have done. Finding out that those lab pig tests were nothing but a lie, Svensson contacted Nathan, but initially, he was not as brave as Nathan Gamelli was. Svensson was afraid of getting fired from Karolinska if, by any chance, his handling of the confidential information got exposed, so he decided not to disclose the findings properly. Eventually, after Ana Lasbrey teamed up with them, Svensson took the plunge and risked his career to bring light to the truth. The three of them gathered all the proofs regarding Paolo Macchiarini’s lies about the artificial tracheas, but the Karolinska Institute itself became an obstacle in their way of finding justice. The head of the board, Dr. Hedley, did his best to protect Karolinska from defamation because, if Paolo’s medical malpractice was revealed, Karolinska would be responsible for allowing Paolo to continue his surgeries. Hedley warned the three of them about their careers, asking them to. reconsider, so in response to that, Lasbrey, Gamelli, and Svensson resigned from Karolinska because, according to Nathan, if they didn’t go against the medical malpractice continued by Paolo, they didn’t have any right to call themselves doctors.


Where Are Drs. Oscar Simonson And Thomas Fux Now?

Dr. Oscar Simonson was the co-author of the research report on artificial trachea transplantation in The Lancet, just like Svensson in the series. Oscar began to grow skeptical since the beginning of his experiment on the rats and eventually decided to expose Macchiarini. He not only held Macchiarini responsible for his callousness but also the Karolinska Institute, which didn’t prioritize innocent human lives and emphasized Paolo being a miracle man. Oscar is no longer associated with the hospital, but he’s still a practicing doctor, excelling in the field of cardiothoracic treatments.

Thomas Fux, who’s the potential inspiration behind Nathan Gamelli, didn’t resign from the Karolinska Institute, but that doesn’t mean that he did not contribute to the protest against Paolo Macchiarini. Instead, Thomas is the one who is skeptical about Paolo from the very start and decides to speak out against the evil game he played with human lives. Thomas Fux remained at the institute, thriving in the research field. Besides, the other two surgeons who assisted Macchiarini in the transplantation surgeries were Karl-Henrik Grinnemo and Matthias Corbascio, who played a vital role against Paolo. Both Grinnemo and Corbascio still work at Karolinska Institute; while Grimmemo continues his practice in cardiology, Corbascio is still a cardiothoracic surgeon. No matter how much of a challenging phase they had gone through during their ongoing struggle against Paolo Macchiarini and the head of the institute, the four of them remained loyal to their profession and sought the truth. These four doctors, who are nothing short of real-life heroes fighting for a change, wanted the best for their patients and eventually made sure that Paolo Macchiarini no longer could bring them harm.


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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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