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Dr. Death | S3: Miracle Man

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 Podcast: Dr. Death | S3: Miracle Man 

An Interview with Benita

Generated by reNotes: In this podcast episode, host David Brown interviews Benita Alexander about Paulo macchiarini, a disgraced surgeon who is facing trial for aggravated assault in connection with the surgeries he performed at Karolinska. Alexander shares how macchiarini was able to convince doctors, patients, and journalists that he was a groundbreaking surgeon, and how his actions have affected her life.

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Show notes (unedited)

In this podcast episode, host David Brown interviews Benita Alexander, a producer, director, and reporter, about Paulo macchiarini, a disgraced surgeon who is facing trial for aggravated assault in connection with the surgeries he performed at Karolinska. Alexander shares how macchiarini was able to convince doctors, patients, and journalists that he was a groundbreaking surgeon, and how his actions have affected her life.

A woman tells her story of being conned and betrayed by the man she loved, and how she made a documentary about her experience. She talks about how other women who have been in similar situations have contacted her, and how they all share a sense of shame and embarrassment.

In the wake of the scandal surrounding Brazilian surgeon, Dr. Paulo Mercury, people are questioning how much Karolinska Institutet (where Mercury worked) knew about his reckless and careless behavior. It's clear that Mercury was able to get away with a lot because of his charisma and charm, and people were willing to look the other way.

Whistleblowers at Karolinska were ignored when they warned about Paolo Macchiarini, and the institution is still in place despite the many problems that have been uncovered. There is some hope that things will change in the future, but it is not clear if this will actually happen.

Google searches were responsible for bringing Dr. macchiarini a majority of his patients. However, because journalists were writing uncritical stories about him, this led to his dark secrets being hidden. His colleagues thought he was great and there was no reason to question him.

This person is discussing how journalists often spread false information without checking the facts first. They recount how they saw this firsthand with the coverage of Paolo Macchiarini, a doctor who was later revealed to be a fraud. They express how vulnerable patients can be when they see this false information and how it can prey on their desperation.

A mother reflects on the pain caused by her daughter's father, a serial liar who manipulated her and her family. She wonders how far back his deception goes, and how her daughter is doing today.

Paulo Coehlo is a con artist who has been caught tells his mother that he does not think his father's fighting against the Nazis is real. His mother then asks him how many women he has been with. Paulo then tells her about the four women he has been with recently and how he suspects there are many more. His mother then asks him how he was planning on getting out of the wedding he was planning with one of the women and Paulo tells her he thinks there was no plan.

The person writing this recalls the time leading up to when they found out their partner was cheating on them. They were fighting a lot and noticed that their partner had changed. They attributed this at the time to the stress of their partner's job in Sweden. However, in retrospect, they believe that their partner was panicking about how to end the relationship and what they would do next. The writer also notes that their partner was spending a lot of money during this time, including on the writer themselves. The partner was always generous with money, but when it came to the wedding, they told the writer to pay for certain things and said they would reimburse them later. This ended up totaling over $50,000. The writer eventually got a credit card from their partner to use for expenses. They never got any money back from their partner.

The individual in this content describes ordering a large amount of supplies and items in reaction to the possibility of a pandemic, as well as to get revenge on her ex-partner. She wonders aloud how other women who have been through something similar find closure, when it seems impossible to have a conversation with the person who harmed them.

The person writing this was talking about how they used to be in love with someone, but now they feel nothing for them. They say that they want justice for his patients, and that's why they want to go to the courtroom if they can. They also mention that they were looking forward to meeting Elton John at the wedding that didn't end up happening.

A woman tells her story of being married to a man who turned out to be a con artist. She talks about how she felt when she found out and how she dealt with it. She also talks about how she decided to tell her story in order to help other women who may have gone through something similar.

This is a special episode of Dr. Death miracle man, featuring an interview with the show's host, Laura Biel. The episode discusses how the show is produced and offers some behind-the-scenes information. Additionally, the episode provides some links and offers from sponsors, and encourages listeners to fill out a survey at wondery.com/survey in order to support the show.

Disclaimer: Content created by reNotes from the podcast transcript is an example only.  reKnow does not own the original podcast and all content on this page, including content derived from the podcast, are the property of the podcast owner.  Being featured as an example does not imply the podcast owner is a reNotes user.

Description (unedited)

In this podcast episode, host David Brown interviews Benita Alexander about Paulo macchiarini, a disgraced surgeon who is facing trial for aggravated assault in connection with the surgeries he performed at Karolinska. Alexander shares how macchiarini was able to convince doctors, patients, and journalists that he was a groundbreaking surgeon, and how his actions have affected her life.

Article (unedited)

How a Con Artist Fooled the World: The Paulo Macchiarini Story

Paulo Macchiarini was a world-renowned surgeon who was at the top of his field. He was a professor at the world-renowned Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and was known for his groundbreaking work in transplant surgery. But in 2016, it all came crashing down.

Macchiarini was revealed to be a fraud and was facing trial for aggravated assault in connection with the surgeries he performed at Karolinska. How did he fool so many people for so long?

According to journalist Benita Alexander, who interviewed Macchiarini for a documentary, it was his charisma and charm. He was able to convince doctors, patients, and journalists that he was a groundbreaking surgeon. And because of the uncritical coverage he received, his dark secrets were hidden.

But Macchiarini's colleagues were not the only ones fooled. Many of his patients found him through Google searches. And because of the positive coverage he received, they had no reason to question him.

Unfortunately, these patients paid the ultimate price for Macchiarini's deception. Many of them died or were left with serious complications. And their families have been left to pick up the pieces.

So what can be done to prevent something like this from happening again?

For starters, there needs to be more critical coverage of the medical field. Journalists need to be more skeptical and question everything. And institutions need to be more transparent.

But most importantly, we need to be more careful about who we trust. We need to do our research and not take things at face value. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Social Posts (unedited)

Post 1
In this podcast episode, host David Brown interviews Benita Alexander, a producer, director, and reporter, about Paulo Macchiarini, a disgraced surgeon who is facing trial for aggravated assault in connection with the surgeries he performed at Karolinska. Alexander shares how Macchiarini was able to convince doctors, patients, and journalists that he was a groundbreaking surgeon, and how his actions have affected her life.
Post 2
In this podcast episode, host David Brown interviews Benita Alexander about Paulo macchiarini, a disgraced surgeon who is facing trial for aggravated assault in connection with the surgeries he performed at Karolinska. Alexander shares how Macchiarini was able to convince doctors, patients, and journalists that he was a groundbreaking surgeon, and how his actions have affected her life.

This is a must-listen episode for anyone who wants to understand how a con artist operates and how they can wreak havoc on people's lives. Tune in now to learn more and hear Benita's story.

Post 3

Paulo Macchiarini was a surgeon who was able to convince doctors, patients, and journalists that he was a groundbreaking surgeon. However, he is now facing trial for aggravated assault in connection with the surgeries he performed at Karolinska. In this podcast episode, host David Brown interviews Benita Alexander, a producer, director, and reporter, about how Macchiarini was able to convince doctors, patients, and journalists that he was a groundbreaking surgeon, and how his actions have affected her life.

Original transcript used by reNotes

Podcast:  Dr. Death | S3: Miracle Man

Episode: An Interview with Benita

Paulo macchiarini was once considered among the most pioneering surgeons in the world, surgeons in Sweden have carried out the world's first transplant of a synthetic organ. In what seems like the plot from a science fiction novel researchers built a new windpipe until it all fell apart. The Italian surgeon involved highly macchiarini has since been exposed as dishonest. The BBC report Stockholm authorities are gathering information about the three operations conducted at Carlins. Can university hospital to see if there are grounds for manslaughter charges. Over the last six episodes, we covered just how he came to convince doctors, patients and journalists that he was changing medicine. He was advertised as sort of the Savior of the Karolinska. So very quickly, everybody knew who he was, and how he convinced one woman to fall for him. I just I couldn't fight it anymore. I just want it to be with him and

I want it to be wrapped in love.

Of the eight documented tracheal implants that Paolo macchiarini performed only one patient is believed to be alive and that patient had his implant removed. Paulo is now a disgraced surgeon, and so far he has evaded justice, but that might change. In September 2020 Swedish prosecutors charged Paulo with aggravated assault in connection with the surgeries he performed at Karolinska. His trial is scheduled for 2022. One of the things that struck me is how he was able to pull it off how he was able to just get away with it. Out of all the people we spoke with for this series, there's one person who had the most interaction with him his former fiancee, bonita Alexander. Today I'm talking with her about what she went through and how Palo kept his secrets and what our life has been like since Paulo was exposed.

Hi, I'm David Brown, the host of wondery show business wars. In our latest series, the big automakers gear up to fight flashy incumbent Elon Musk. Check out Tesla vs Detroit on business wars on Apple podcasts, Amazon music or the wondery app join wondery Plus in the wonder he apt to listen one week early and ad free. On a cold morning in Indianapolis, Tony Curtis woke up, loaded his shotgun and drove to his bank. He wasn't there to steal anything he was there to take his life back American hostage tells the true story of one man who channeled the rage of a nation and took justice into his own hands. Follow American hostage wherever you get your podcasts or you can binge all eight episodes right now on Amazon music.

From wondery I'm Laura Beale, and this is a special interview episode of Dr. Death. miracle man.

Benita Alexander is a longtime producer, director and reporter. She's worked at NBC News, discovery and oxygen. She has won two Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow award after she made the documentary a leap of faith about Paulo for NBC News. She later made her own documentary about what she'd been through with him called he lied about everything, which is probably the most fitting title for a documentary ever.

Binita Hi, Laura. How are you? I'm good. How are you doing? Mom? Alright, thank you. Thanks for talking to me today. What a story. Days. Crazy, right?

It is nuts. And I was just listening to it. I wasn't even living it. So I can't even imagine. I have to confess when I was listening to the story, though, part of me, in a way was glad that had happened to you. Because if it wasn't for you, and it wasn't for the journalists in Sweden, like he might, he might still be operating on people. I think you're absolutely right. And I've It's horrifying. I mean, in that sense, this whole thing. I always say in some weird way. This makes sense to me that because I am a journalist and I, you know, I am determined and stubborn. And I did have the tools to expose him and was able to do it and somebody else might not have had the strength to do that. I know that and in that sense, in a weird way. I'm too grateful that it happened to me and incredibly grateful that he you know, bumped heads with the whistleblowers because it's very difficult, very, very difficult and painful to speak up. You know, one of the things that

struck me as the difference from the previous stories I've told is they didn't go after the whistleblowers so hard. So, you know, I mean, we can, you know, torture ourselves with the, with the what ifs. But But yeah, I mean if it if it wouldn't happen to you, you don't want to dwell on this point too much. But I'm like, I agree with you like, I'm in a warped way kind of glad it did in retrospect.

Well, thank you, thank you, I wouldn't, I wouldn't want to go through it again. I do, I really, I really do. And I really appreciate that. I would not want to live it again. And I wouldn't wish it on anybody. But I do think and it's turned into this whole other sort of mission and, you know, purpose that I just, I never expected.

And, and that also makes it make sense to me that if I can somehow help other women and help other people, then somehow this whole crazy mess makes sense. And when you say you've been contacted by women, women who've also been, you know, led down a path and conned and then found out that the person they thought they loved was someone else altogether. Yeah, these were women who have also been conned and betrayed by someone they love to completely betrayed them. And the theme to all of these was this shame, this overriding sense of shame and embarrassment, and not being able to talk to anybody about it as if all these women had a collective read letter on their backs or something. And I was so upset by that, and so touched at the same time by the fact that they're thanking me and saying, You've made me feel less stupid, you've made me realize that it's okay. Because if this could happen to you, obviously, it can happen to anyone. But let's go back to who really does, you know, who really does deserve blame here? I mean, Paulo number one, but after that, how complicit was Karolinska in this in this whole thing, because I it never really state that, you know, directly, but it's certainly clear, but I just like to know your thoughts on how, how much they really had to do with Paulo Mercury's career and how much they were willfully ignorant about what was happening. It's funny, I was just having this conversation yesterday, actually, after listening to the third episode, because there there are things in there. And in the first episode that I didn't know, and I'm I was absolutely appalled and horrified to be, could you be specific? Oh, that's that. I mean, and I just can't get it out of my head. And the two things about your shame that just I did not know that he did that initial surgery on her for, I'm sorry, it sounds like no fucking legitimate reason. He goes in and cracks open her chest and does open surgery, just because he wants to have a look into that surgery was unnecessary. And then it goes so catastrophically wrong. I didn't know that. And that just horrified me. I just I mean, I gasped when I heard that story. Because right there, the whole thing could have been stopped. I mean, he's just he's so reckless. And then that scene where the doctors are talking about how she, despite being so weak, and barely can get out of bed, she puts on her best dress and gets all dressed up for Apollo. And he knows this and he doesn't even go in the room. That infuriated me hearing that, that imagining what she must have been feeling at that time. And the blatant disregard for just basic humanity, the just careless, careless,

arrogant, thoughtless, I could use a million words that that is just so blatant that he just doesn't care about his patients. What about Karolinska? Like he couldn't have gotten away with it without know except, yeah. So there's a sort of collective desire among all the people that were entangled with him, from institutions, to scientists to doctors, to sweep things under the rug and look the other way and sort of pretend that things weren't happening. It was somebody like him walks into a room with so much charisma and charm and arrogance and, and commands the room and walks the walk and talks to talk and seems to be exactly everything he tells you. He is. People just don't question. They don't doubt we suspend our doubts with people like that, because we just it seems impossible that somebody like that would lie. And it happens over and over again. I mean, yeah, no look at Yeah, look at the other doctors who've, you know, whose stories we've told and you hear this quite often. Oh, he seemed so confident. He seems so charming. He seems so nice. He had such great bedside manner. It's like, it kind of makes you wonder if these guys were just not charming and not nice. If they would have gotten away with it. But then it's like their personalities overcame what they lacked in it.

Zach Hill and morals they overcame in that personality. Totally Laura. I mean, that was one of the things about Paolo and even the reason I was attracted to him at first, his bedside manner was so gentle and soothing. And he, it was so touching to watch. I mean, you you really thought he cared about his patients. I really thought he cared about Hannah. And the stark reality is he didn't give a damn about any of them. You know. And to get back to Karolinska quickly, I think there was a lot of looking the other way and a lot of wanting to sweep the problem under the rug. And in that sense, I do think they are complicit. They were warned many times they were warned by the whistleblowers early on, I wrote to the chancellor at the very beginning, not long after I found out everything myself and just said, I don't know exactly what's going on here. But you need to know that this man is not who you think he is. Your star surgeon is not the man you think he is. I got the same thing that whistleblowers did nothing, no answer. I think this man was so famous, and was bringing them so many accolades and so much attention to Karolinska. There were whispers about him being in contention for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. And there's so much money attached to this. And it's two things, its money and its prestige. And to blow either of those things up has devastating effects and devastating implications. And and I don't know, anything, have they learned any lessons? I could ask this a lot. And I actually don't know the answers even in the States, but so you might know, but are they doing anything differently now? Yes. i That's good to know. I do think so. I think it took a minute. I think there was a lot of resistance at the beginning. But once they decided to go ahead with it. I they did take action. And there were there are so many domino effects mean, people got fired people resigned. But it's it's interesting, because because I think the doctors who were involved maybe don't feel like Karolinska has learned, you know, yeah, there were a few heads that rolled but the the institution is still is still in place. Well, look, I'm not there, right. I'm, I'm I'm over here in the US, and I'm only seeing the little cursory things they have to do well, and maybe now they'll actually check out their new doctors before they, you know, oh, God, I hope so. Speaking of checking out, so they obviously have tools that that, you know, patients don't. And another common theme to all of these stories really, is how difficult it is. For us as patients to check out our doctors, this is something that's just a particular interest of mine. Because yeah, we are only, you know, a lot of them found him by googling. And I can't You can't fault them for that. Because no, because Google, it's terribly unreliable. These health care rating sites are unreliable. I mean, you know, Dunn's had 4.5 out of five stars on Healthgrades. Crazy. I mean, so they're completely misleading and unreliable. And yet, they're all we've got. So I was wondering when there were a couple of lines about patients found him on Google. Could you talk about that a little bit? Like how were these people finding him? Like how much was the internet involved in bringing him these patients, the internet played a massive role in in bringing Dr. macchiarini his patients, almost all of them, found him by a simple Google search, which is terrifying in hindsight, because he had, you know, his reputation as this quote unquote, super surgeon, the super surgeon had grown in headlines picked up on that and, you know, things spread like wildfire find in Google Search, like what would they would they find news articles about him? You know, are we as journalists, like have some role in this? Because because journalists were writing uncritical stories about him that would pop up in these Google searches. I mean, do all of us bear a little responsibility in that? That's an interesting question and a hard one. And I think, I think yes, to some extent, I don't quite know how you stop it. I mean, look, even when I did the story that I did on him, none of what we know now had come out yet, you know, at the time, the whistleblowers, even when it aired, the whistleblowers were just starting, you know, to put their heads together and working frantically to put everything together. But none of that information had been released to the public yet. So, you know, short if somehow somebody knowing what the whistleblower has found out, I don't know how anyone was supposed to know that, you know, he had this. He was hiding these dark secrets that had not been revealed yet. And you're saying because even his colleagues thought he was great. Yeah. I mean, he was still being vouched for by, Karolinska by the place that gives a Nobel Prize in Medicine. They were still saying he might be a contender for a Nobel Prize in Medicine. I mean, there just was no reason to question this man. There was no you know, there were little

hence, like the thing that came up in Italy, but everything was immediately quelled or squashed, he had done a very good job of hiding anything negative. And there just was no reason to doubt him. Unfortunately, I do think what journalists do, you know, if there's a headline, and there's, there's something online, it gets, it gets picked up and repeated by other outlets who don't. And I've experienced this myself with false information that's been out there, about me and the aftermath of this. And things get repeated, you know, over and over, over again, without anybody fact checking. I mean, that alarms me to a great deal. It's very eye opening, because I've, you know, experiences a little myself. But first of all, I have to say, I will defend journalists and journalism all day long, as I'm sure you will make do. But I also think that every journalist should have journalism done to them, you know, to really, because it can be eye opening how even tiny mistakes get repeated and amplified. They rely on other journalists. And one of the part I actually loved in when you were telling the story is how you saw the questions from the science journalist. And that was really startling to you. Because as a science journalist myself, I'm like, yes, because one of the things that we argued for is, is there should be, as we've seen, even with covering the Coronavirus, there should be journalists with expertise in science covering science stories. Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly. And actually, when I when you think back to him, I think, you know, maybe that would have helped if you'd had. But then again, they were they were covering him from the scientific journals, you know, nature and all these other places, I don't know, it's a difficult problem to figure out, I It makes me very nervous, because I think back to these patients, and they, it all comes back to vulnerability, really right there. They're vulnerable, and they're desperate and that you do a Google search and see that this is the miracle man, this is the only man that that can fix this. He's the only man that's what people were reading. This is the only man who can do this. He's doing something that nobody else can do. He's your only hope. And people. Of course, people in that situation want to cling to a miracle, you know, and that's, that's what happened.

So I'd like to move to some more a few more of the personal details about Paolo that maybe didn't make it in and and I'm but before we do that, I'm just wondering, I mean, there's so much about your experience with him. I'm wondering if you could pick out maybe, like one thing that really haunts you from all of this trauma that you've been through?

Gosh, that's a tough one. It's sort of a two part answer to that. That thing that

incenses me to this day is my daughter, you know, it's one thing to do it to me, but to do this to a nine year old girl who just lost her father to cancer is unfathomable to me and he's a father, he has children and to sit in front of my daughter and tell her the same egregious lies that he was telling me when you know, she's a child. And she's a vulnerable child. That makes me angry in a way I don't I just I don't even know how to describe I mean, it's I'm my hands are up in the air as I'm talking to you right now because I'm, it makes my blood boil. How do you sit in front of a child and tell her about the school she's going to be going to and Barcelona and the life she's going to be living in Barcelona. When you know the whole time. Everything you're saying is a lie. Do you mind me asking and you don't have to answer but do you mind me asking how she is today how she's doing today? She's great. She's She's about to go to college. She She is a an obviously I'm biased because I'm her mom. But she is an incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, insightful young woman. And she has big dreams and great promise and she doesn't talk about this a lot. We joke about it sometimes. And the one thing she says to me all the time, she always says to me, Mom, you know if I ever run into him, if I'm ever in an airport somewhere and I see him, I am walking up to him and I am going to slap him across the face. I don't care where I am. When this happens.

i Yeah, right. You have to laugh. I have to laugh because she said this so many times and sometimes I will laugh. And she just looks at me. She's like, Mom, I'm not joking. It's on and then her other line which she loves to tell her friends which kind of makes me cringe but I can't really argue with her a bit. I guess it's her gallows humor way of dealing with this is she's like my mom dated a serial killer.

And I'm like, Oh God, that sounds awful.

How? I'm wondering how if you since since this happened to you if you have any sense of how I'm always interested in Origins

stories a little bit, you know, and how early do you think his deception started? Like? I mean, we know where it started with you. But I'm wondering, like, in general like with is, Was he lying? Like, all along in his, you know, with his surgical career? Was he lying all along to women? I mean, how far does this go back? My hunch is that this is something that started very early. I don't really have any direct evidence of that. And it's funny, I just was talking to my mother about this yesterday, because we were, we were actually talking about the podcast, and she remembered that he had talked about his father, I don't know fighting against the Nazis or something and doing all this crazy stuff. And she said, Do you think any of that was real? And I said, probably not. And how many other women like were there? I mean, you couldn't have been the only one. Like how many women did Paolo con? Any idea.

I'm just trying to count here. At the same time as me there were at least three other women in his life, there was the wife that he told me he had divorced, who, in reality, he never actually divorced. They were separated. And they had been separated for many years. And she's the mother of his children. So but then there's the woman in the home in Barcelona.

There's another woman who reached out to me who I promised that I would keep her identity confident, and I always have. But she had a thing with him right in the middle of mine. And there, there are other women that, you know. So that's, that's four of us right there. And there are others that I suspect, and I've heard, you know, through the grapevine that he had things going, going on with and somebody told me,

a male colleague of his that he liked to joke about having a woman in every port in the world. So unfortunately, I think there are a lot. So how far was he going? This is another question I had, how far was he going to carry this wedding? thing? I mean, because at some point, right, it had to it had, he had to pull the plug on it in some way. But it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger, like, do you think he ever intended to actually marry you? Or how was he going to get out of this? So this is the money question, right? Because clearly, when you you plan the wedding of the century, it's and none of it is real, it's going to implode at some point, right? So my theory is that there wasn't a plan. I don't think these people have a plan. I think he was a they get so caught up in their own web of lies that they're just, they're just going from one line to the next because they have a history of getting away with things. And they always have gotten away with things. I mean, look at Paulo with, he's doing surgeries around the world, and he's in Karolinska and everything. They somehow always wiggle out of it somehow always managed to blame somebody else and get out of it. And he just he didn't really know what his endgame was, he just thought he was going to be okay. I don't think he did. I don't say I think he was he was sort of going one step at a time. i In hindsight, I think towards the end, he was panicking. When I looked back, and I think back to the sort of three months or so leading up to when I found everything out. We were fighting a lot. He had changed. And I attributed it at the time to everything that was going on in Sweden. But I think it was also mounting tension about how the hell am I going to get out of this? And what am I going to do? Because he, you know, he knew I quit my job. He knew that wedding was coming up. And this door was kind of closing in on him. And I think he was panicking a bit. And you were spending a lot of your own money in this as well. I mean, did you recoup some of the money that you had spent on this, I did spend quite a bit of money. He had always been very, very generous financially, and not just with me, with my friends and my family. I mean, you know, he'd take big groups of people out to these very elaborate dinners and pay for everything. He was always taking me to Michelin star restaurants, ordering the most expensive wine. And I mean, the bills were astronomical and always shocking to me. But when it came to the wedding, because he was planning everything, supposedly, in Europe, and there were certain things he wanted me to take care of, which was my dress, basically, and the invitation. So he told me that, go ahead and pay for those things, and I'll pay you back. And then he kept adding all these events and all these things that I needed, you know, red carpet dresses for so between the dresses, it was the dresses, the invitations, the buying plane tickets

for people in the wedding party and for myself and my daughter that to travel to Europe, things like that. Just a lot of the little miscellaneous wedding wedding stuff. It added up to well over $50,000 Oh my gosh. So did you ever get any money back from him from what you had spent? Yeah, well, so finally I said if you can't give me any cash, give me a credit card so that I can at least

Pay for some things on credit card. And he gave me a credit card number, because I kept saying I need money to send my daughter to camp and she goes to the summer camp every summer, I need to buy her things like you know. And so he gave me his credit card. I mean, the big things that I actually really needed to pay my mortgage, the private investigator, obviously, I can't pay the private investigator on his credit card. So one night, we sort of turned it into a fun little girls party, you know, I poured some wine, had a couple girls on the phone, also on wine and on speaker and I got on Amazon, and I literally was looking around my apartment going, Okay, what do I need? I need toilet paper. This is pre pandemic, mind you when nobody did this, I ordered 40 rolls of toilet paper, you know, 20 rolls of paper towels, I need cleaning supplies, I need this, I need that I kind of ordered everything I needed for the house. And some things for my daughter a few things for myself that were kind of fuck you items, quite frankly,

including the blonde wig that I would end up wearing when I went to his house in Barcelona. And so what was the total bill? A it was, it wasn't crazy. I didn't I didn't go crazy. It was less than $1,000. It was just kind of a fun, if you can call it that at the moment way for me to kind of stick it to him a little bit.

So if he was sitting in front of you right now, and he would answer anything, honestly, what questions would you have for him? If you could get honest answers? The only question I have for that man is why?

Why did you do this? To me? To my family, to my friends to my daughter? Why do you do this to anybody? Why did you do this to your patients? And any idea what the answer to that question might be complete denial? I think this man is incapable of telling the truth and incapable of understanding the sick gravity of and implications of his lies. I don't

I just don't know. I cannot I you know, I can't get in the man's head. I don't? I don't know. So how do you get given that you probably will never be able to have that conversation. How do you and the other women who have been through this get closure? Because you will not be able to confront them? And even if you were, I mean, let's be honest, they're not going to come out and and have genuine remorse? Probably? Of course not. They have no remorse. So how do you reach a point where you're okay, maybe not with what happened. But with where you are today. What I tell women all the time now is Don't drive yourself crazy trying to figure out a crazy person. We can't understand them. And we their brains are not wired the same way. Our brains are wired, something's wrong. Something's clearly very, very wrong. I realized that a long time ago. And what I tell women all the time now is to try and take yourself away from that and away from from the person because you'll get mired in a in a hole you're never going to get out of you will never get the answers. And so the way to heal is to focus on yourself and to realize that you Yes, you got conned, no, you are not stupid. And this can happen to anyone. These guys are incredibly manipulative, incredibly adept at what they do. There's brainwashing there's gaslighting. I'm just wondering if you think that you I mean, right now you're sort of president of the club that no woman wants to be in? Do you think you will ever reach a point where he's not an unwelcome guest in your mind? When I go back and I think about things and I talk about things in the moment I get very angry and I can get upset but I sort of almost feel nothing for him now. He's kind of it's kind of blank. I just I want justice. I want justice for his patients. And that's why I want to go to the courtroom if I can and look him eye to eye in that courtroom. But yeah, I'm just kind of blank I just because also the reality Laura is the man that I thought I was in love with literally doesn't exist. The man I thought Dr. Paulo macaroni was never was was speaking of things that never was. I have one last question that that I was also wondering of a completely different nature. But when when you were describing this huge, celebrity filled wedding that you were supposedly going to have of all that guestlist Who were you most looking forward to? To Meeting like, like what you know, in your fantasy wedding guests which he was in the fantasy wedding that he was portraying for you?

Who when it fell apart, who were you most sad you're like, Oh man, now I'm not going to

I see who I don't know if I ever thought of it exactly that way. Some of my friends have been like, Oh, I didn't get to meet this person or that person. The person that I actually, of all the people that he claimed were coming to this wedding, the person that I really was excited to meet was Elton John. I've always been a fan of Elton John. So much. So his song Benny and the Jets My nickname is Benny. My family calls me Ben, my whole family calls me Benny, and the very first license plate I had on on a car when I was a teenager in Michigan. What said Benny in the Jets? So?

Yeah, I just was sad that I didn't get to meet Elton John. I didn't really care about anybody else. But what a stroke of luck that he was actually in Rome, like that. I know. I know. Yeah. And that was one of the things that really tripped me up because that was one of the few things I did check. I mean, he, he had insisted that I not, you know, I wasn't supposed to ask any questions. But I did a tiny bit of poking around. I mean, when he told me that Elton John was going to be singing for me at this event on Friday night. Now, I did look into, you know, Elton John's schedule and everything. And he actually was in Rome that weekend of her wedding, and was going to be there the whole weekend and performing at the place where Apollo said this event was taking place. So how close then did you get to Elton John that night? Oh, when I went to see him, we tried to get as close to the front as we could. And we weren't very far back, I think, maybe 10 rows or something. And I was sort of joking with Lee, you know, that I wanted to rush the stage and say, Hey, by the way, you know, I'm the one you're supposed to be singing to at the wedding. But of course, you know.

Ridiculous, I do love the way, you know, I have to say, I mean, I know we're out of time, but I I do love the way that you, you know, when you got there putting on the dress, and, you know, it's just like you had been through so much. And I can't imagine the devastation. And you were just like, You know what, I'm just gonna own this. And you went there, and you put on the dress. And I I have to say, I really admired that. Thank you. I actually, I appreciate that. Because it was it was me, reclaiming myself. It was me being defiant and determined. And you know, in the face of all of this devastation and this overwhelming desire to to fall apart and hide under the bed. Well, that's that's how I that's how I ticket. Thank you. Yeah, that's what that red dress was. That was me saying, You're not doing this to me. Well, bonita, thank you for talking with me about this. Yeah, thank you for doing it. I do think shame keeps women from from speaking up about this. And I admire your courage and going forward and putting yourself out there and trying to prevent it from happening. I thank you. I can I think that's the one thing, if there's one other thing I can do aside from expose him, it's to help women know that they should not be shamed into silence. You know, it's this happens, you fall in love a man that would do this. I mean, we've seen it here. But a man that would do this to a woman in that context, will do it professionally as well. I mean, it's not just surgeons, although that's a little more terrifying, but but a man who would, who would kind of woman this way, you know, will con someone in their professional life will comment, you know, someone in I mean, there's not. It's not a boundary for them to be deceptive. And so they will be deceptive. In in other realms, as well. Yeah. Which is exactly why I made that decision to do the story in Vanity Fair at the beginning, because I thought if he's, if he's lying to me,

in this extreme manner, there is no way. There's just no way he's not lying in the medical professional arena. And you were right. Unfortunately, yes. Yeah. Unfortunately, as for his patients, unfortunately, yes. I wish I wish that were not the case. I wish. I wish it had just been me. But if it wasn't.

Well, thank you again. Thank you so much. Thank you, Laura. I really thank you for doing this. I really appreciate it.

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This is a special interview episode of Dr. Death miracle man. I'm your host, Laura Biel. Producer is Nikka Singh who also reported this story. Additional reporting by Julia Alanya. fact checking by Jacqueline Coletti production assistants from Fiona Prasanna additional production assistants from Simran Singh, Chris Segal, Guglielmo Mattioli and Melissa Duenas Special thanks to Lindsey Graham, audio engineer is Marcelino Villalpando. Managing producer is Lata Pandya music supervisor is Scott philosophes Sound Design by salt our executive producers are George lavender, Marshall Louie and Jen Sargent for wondering

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