French surgeon in trouble for attempt to sell Bataclan victim's X-ray as art

·3-min read

A senior French surgeon faces legal action and a possible disciplinary charge after attempting to sell an X-ray showing the injured arm of a concert-goer who was shot during the 2015 terrorist attack on the Bataclan music venue in Paris.

The French woman who survived the 2015 attacks on the Bataclan concert hall was "extremely shocked" after learning that her surgeon had attempted to sell an X-ray of her injuries online, her lawyer said on Monday.

Orthopedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean, who practises at the Georges Pompidou public hospital in southwest Paris, was first reported by the Mediapart website on Saturday to be selling an image of the X-Ray as a digital artwork, without the patient's consent.

The image shows a forearm containing a Kalashnikov bullet and was on sale for 2,446 euros on the OpenSea website.

"This doctor, not content with breaking the duty of medical secrecy towards his patient, thought it would be a good idea to describe the private life of this young woman, making her perfectly identifiable," lawyer Elodie Abraham said in a statement.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was "extremely shocked" by the surgeon's behaviour.

He called her on Sunday, attempting "to justify himself without expressing the slightest regret nor empathy towards her," the lawyer added.

Criminal and professional complaints

The head of Paris's public hospitals, Martin Hirsch, wrote on Twitter on Saturday confirming that a criminal and professional complaint would be lodged against the surgeon for his "disgraceful" and "scandalous" decision.

"This act is contrary to sound professional practice, puts medical secrecy in danger, and goes against the values of the Paris hospitals," Hirsch wrote in a message sent to staff, which he shared on Twitter.

Asked for comment by Mediapart, Masmejean acknowledged that the sale was "an error" and said he regretted not having sought permission from the patient.

She is not directly identified, but is described as a young woman whose boyfriend was killed in the Bataclan attack, which was part of a wave of shootings and bomb attacks in the French capital by Islamic State gunmen.

According to Masmejean's description on the platform OpenSea, the patient "had an open fracture of the left forearm with a bullet from a Kalachnikov still lodged in soft tissues".

Image withdrawn, but still visible

The surgeon, who is a professor of surgery and a specialist in arm injuries, wrote that he had personally operated on five female victims at the Bataclan.

He told Mediapart that he had withdrawn the sale, but the image was still visible on Sunday.

The victims' association Life for Paris said in a statement that it "stood alongside the victim of the attack who is today the victim of stupidity... by a 'doctor' who has evidently forgotten his ethical code".

A second association representing survivors and bereaved families, Fraternity and Truth, denounced the "odious behaviour" on Twitter but said it was an "isolated incident, "not at all representative of the health workers of the Paris hospitals in whom we have complete confidence".

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