Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife is currently airing on Netflix, with the streaming site looking into the work of surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, who set out to revolutionise regenerative medicine until he was accused of lying about his research.


The docuseries is told via interviews with former surgeons at the Karolinska Institute and Macchiarini's former fiancée, NBC producer Benita Alexander, who he met in 2013 ahead of his appearance on a documentary called A Leap of Faith. The film was eventually broadcast in 2014.

Towards the end of the docuseries, Benita learns that Macchiarini was already in a relationship and that most of what he'd told her about their wedding plans was false.

We also hear from another woman named Ana Paula Bernardes, the mother of one of Paolo's deceased patients, who went on to have a child with Paolo.

While both Benita and Ana feature in the documentary, Macchiarini was also married to another woman named Emanuela Pecchia who doesn't make an appearance.

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Read on for everything you need to know about Paolo Macchiarini's wife and relationships.

Who is Paolo Macchiarini’s wife?

NBC producer and journalist Benita Alexander kissing surgeon Paolo Macchiarini on the cheek.
NBC producer and journalist Benita Alexander and surgeon Paolo Macchiarini. Netflix

While we hear from both Alexander and Bernardes in the documentary, Paolo was actually married to an Italian woman called Emanuela Pecchia, and the couple have two children together, a girl and a boy.

The docuseries begins with the NBC producer Alexander describing how she met Paolo, who she was filming for a documentary about his "landmark" surgery, which saw him perform the first transplant of a synthetic organ, giving a man a laboratory-grown windpipe, with the graft supported by the patient’s own stem cells.

Alexander and Macchiarini grew close, with the surgeon flying her across the globe from the Bahamas to Mexico, Greece, Italy and more. Macchiarini even took Alexander and her daughter to meet his mother in Lucca. Macchiarini told Alexander that his divorce had finally come through and proposed to her on Christmas Day, 2013.

The pair began planning their wedding, which Paolo insisted on taking over, telling Benita that Pope Francis would officiate and guests would include Bill and Hilary Clinton, and Michelle and Barack Obama – some of whom he claimed to have operated on. Macchiarini told Alexander that Andrea Bocelli would sing at the event, and the three Michelin-star restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence would be providing the food.

The date was set for June 2015, however, it never happened.

One of Alexander's friends sent her an email showing her that the Pope was due to be on a tour of South America when he had "agreed" to marry them.

Ana Paula Bernardes speaking in her VT for Netflix's Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife
Ana Paula Bernardes. Netflix

According to Vanity Fair: “Macchiarini tried to blame the scheduling mix-up on Vatican politics and claimed that he was on his way to Rome to straighten things out.

"He maintained that her fears were unfounded—that he was acting in good faith and that everything would work out as planned. He said the Pope would be cutting his trip short and returning early.”

However, Alexander saw through the lies and called the wedding off. She later hired a private investigator, who confirmed that the information Macchiarini had told her about their wedding was pretty much false.

Having never visited Macchiarini in this hometown of Barcelona, Alexander decided to take a trip overseas with two of her friends. When they approached Macchiarini's home, Alexander heard children calling someone "dad" and returned to the car. While she stayed in the car, her friends spoke with him and met his wife and children.

In the documentary, viewers also hear from Ana Paula Bernardes, who met Macchiarini in 2010 when he operated on her son Danilo at Cisanello in Pisa. Danilo died shortly after the operation due to some complications. Following Danilo's passing, Macchiarini continued to speak to Bernardes and they eventually got into a relationship. They later welcomed a daughter together.

However, things came crashing down in 2016, when Bernardes learned of Macchiarini's relationship with Benita Alexander via a magazine interview she did with Vanity Fair in which she exposed Macchiarini's actions, including the fake wedding and that he was already married.

Bernardes fled with her child.

Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife is available to stream on Netflix now. Sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

Looking for something to watch in the meantime? Check out more of our Documentaries coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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