Row erupts in France over sale of Bataclan survivor's x-ray

2022 01 26 21 56 1404 Bataclan 400

A senior orthopedic surgeon faces legal action and a possible disciplinary charge after attempting to sell an x-ray of a concertgoer who was shot during the 2015 terrorist attack on the Bataclan music venue in Paris, according to media reports.

Dr. Emmanuel Masmejean, from the European Hospital Georges Pompidou was first reported by the Mediapart website on 22 January to be selling an image of the x-ray as a digital artwork, without the patient's consent.

The picture shows a forearm containing a Kalashnikov bullet and was on sale for $2,776 (2,470 euros) on the OpenSea website, which specializes in so-called NFT (nonfungible token) digital images, Le Quotidien du Médecin reported on 24 January.

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

"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," Hirsch reportedly wrote in a message sent to staff, which he shared on Twitter.

When asked by Mediapart to comment on the incident, Masmejean acknowledged that the sale was "an error" and said he regretted not having sought permission from the patient.

The patient has not been identified, but the individual is described as a young woman whose boyfriend was killed in the Bataclan attack, according to The terrorist attack claimed 130 lives and was part of a wave of shootings and bomb attacks in Paris by Islamic State gunmen.

The image, which has now been withdrawn, reportedly showed an open fracture of the left forearm with a remaining bullet of Kalashnikov in soft tissues.

"This doctor, not content with breaking the duty of medical secrecy towards 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, in an article posted on 24 January by the Guardian.

She said Masmejean had called the woman on Sunday "to justify himself without expressing the slightest regret nor empathy towards her."

An NFT is a unique certificate of ownership, and it can be applied to any digital creation. While such a work can still be copied, it can be sold only by the owner of the NFT, explained the Guardian.

In the art world, NFT works burst into the mainstream last year and are now traded at major auction houses, generating several hundred million dollars in transactions every 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 euros, the Guardian reported.

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