Real Knife, Fake Surgery

Sham operations--in which the patient is cut open and sewed up--are the latest medical controversy

George Doeschner had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for 12 years when his physician told him about an experimental surgery that might offer a cure. Researchers at the University of Colorado were taking cells from embryos and putting them in the brains of Parkinson's patients to replace cells killed by the disease. The 55-year-old electrician applied to be a part of the experiment and flew to Denver. He was prepped for surgery and sedated. A hole was drilled through his skull. Then his surgeons sewed him up and sent him home--without giving him those embryonic cells.

Surgical error? Medicare fraud?...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!