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French surgeon tried to sell terrorist attack survivor's X-ray as NFT for over €2,400

par John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | February 04, 2022
Business Affairs European News X-Ray
A French surgeon is facing legal action for attempting to sell a patient's X-ray scan
A senior orthopedic surgeon in France is facing legal action and a disciplinary charge for tying to sell the X-ray of a woman who survived the 2015 terrorist attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

The woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, was “extremely shocked” to find that Dr. Emmanuel Masmejean at the Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris was trying to sell her X-ray for €2,446 ($2,727), according to her lawyers. He listed it on the marketing site, OpenSea for sale until February 19.

The image shows the woman’s forearm where a Kalashnikov bullet was lodged near the bone. Masmejean offered on the site as an NFT digital artwork (non-fungible token). Using the same data as cryptocurrencies, an NFT is a unit of data, such as digital artwork, that cannot be duplicated. It comes with a unique certificate of ownership that can be applied to any digital creation and means that while a work can be copied, it can only be sold by the owner of the NFT, according to The Guardian.

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“This doctor, not content with breaking the duty of medical secrecy toward this patient, thought it would be a good idea to describe the private life of this young woman, making her perfectly identifiable,” said the woman’s lawyer, Elodie Abraham.

Perpetrated by Islamic State (IS) extremists, the Bataclan attack consisted of shootings and bomb attacks that claimed the lives of 130 people on November 13, 2015. One of the dead was the woman’s boyfriend at the time.

Masmejean said in his listing that the patient “had an open fracture of the left forearm with a remaining bullet of Kalachnikov in soft tissues.” He added that as a professor of surgery and a specialist in treating arm injuries, he had personally operated on five female victims from the Bataclan, reported France 24.

The sale was canceled, according to Mediapart, which first reported the story.

Masmejean's told Mediapart that the attempted sale was an “error” and that he regretted not seeking permission from the patient.

But Abraham said that Masmejean recently called the woman “to justify himself without expressing the slightest regret nor empathy toward her.”

In a message to staff that he shared on Twitter, Martin Hirsch, head of Paris’ public hospitals, said a criminal and professional complaint would be lodged against Masmejean for his “disgraceful” and “scandalous” behavior. “This act is contrary to sound professional practice, puts medical secrecy in danger and goes against the values of AP-HP (Paris hospitals) and public service.”

OpenSea specializes in selling NFTs, which became a mainstream trend last year and are now sold at auction houses for hundreds of millions of dollars each month. The first SMS ever sent by a mobile phone in 1992 was sold in December as an NFT at a Paris auction for €107,000 (more than $119,000), according to The Guardian.

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