Dr. Death Subject Benita Alexander Is Now A “Love Con Expert”

Mandy Moore plays the TV news producer in Peacock’s true crime drama.

Edgar Ramírez as Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, Mandy Moore as Benita Alexander in 'Dr. Death' Season 2, via...
David Giesbrecht/Peacock

When Emmy-winning investigative journalist Benita Alexander approached “Miracle Man” Dr. Paolo Macchiarini for a story, the line between personal and professional quickly blurred, changing her life forever.

The tale of deception that followed is at the center of Peacock’s Dr. Death Season 2, which dramatizes the shocking discoveries that Alexander (played by Mandy Moore) made about the famed transplant surgeon (Edgar Ramírez) who was once hailed as a pioneer of stem cell medicine.

Business Turned Into Pleasure

Alexander met Macchiarini in early 2013 while working as a producer on A Leap of Faith, an NBC News documentary with Meredith Viera. Just two years earlier, the doctor made global headlines for completing the world’s first-ever stem cell windpipe transplant in Sweden.

Swayed by Macchiarini’s charm, she quickly fell in love, and a secret whirlwind romance followed, including global travel to London, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, the Bahamas, and more. “I knew that I was crossing the line in the sense that it’s a basic and well-understood rule of journalism that you don’t become involved with one of the subjects of your story, because your objectivity could clearly become compromised,” Alexander explained to Vanity Fair in 2016.

The relationship continued anyway. Within less than a year, Macchiarini proposed to Alexander on Christmas Day 2013.

An Unbelievable Wedding Gone Awry

According to Alexander, Macchiarini insisted on planning the wedding, which they decided to hold in Rome on July 11, 2015. The surgeon claimed that the guest list would include his supposed famous friends: former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as John Legend, Elton John, and Russell Crowe.

He even told her that another close contact, Pope Francis, would officiate the fairytale ceremony, and Andrea Bocelli was slated to perform.

About two months before their would-be wedding (soon after she quit her job at NBC News), however, one of Alexander’s friends sent her an email linking to an article that the Pope was scheduled to be in South America on her wedding day. That’s when Macchiarini’s stories began to unravel, and she called off their wedding, weeks later.

Uncovering Macchiarini’s Lies

After hiring a private investigator, Alexander discovered that Macchiarini’s deception extended far beyond the wedding. Not only had the jewelry he’d gifted her been fake, but she also learned that Macchiarini was living a double life and already had a wife and children in Spain.

Alexander also uncovered lies he’d told about his career, and she reported Macchiarini to his employers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute (which selects the Nobel Prize laureates in physiology or medicine). Macchiarini was fired from the Karolinska Institute in March 2016 for breaching medical ethics after being accused of falsifying his resume and misrepresenting his work, per the Associated Press.

After several of his patients died, Sweden’s Svea Court of Appeal found Macchiarini guilty of three cases of gross assault in June 2023, ruling that he “acted with criminal intent” in performing risky, experimental procedures. The five-judge panel sentenced Macchiarini to two years and six months in prison.

Benita Alexander’s Life Now

In the years after their relationship ended, Alexander has used her platform to share her story in hopes of empowering women who have survived fraud, both through interviews and via several professional projects, including her podcast, Benita & The Berracas.

She recently participated in the Netflix true crime docuseries, Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife, after already executive producing her own doc, He Lied About Everything, on Investigation Discovery in 2018.

Alexander is also currently the executive producer and showrunner of the Investigation Discovery series, Crimes Gone Viral.


As a self-described “love con expert,” Alexander also gives speeches and makes regular media appearances, including a correspondent role on The Dr. Oz Show. On Instagram, Alexander, whose bio states that she speaks out in hopes of exposing Macchiarini’s “deadly lies,” also frequently discusses her ex-fiancé and his criminal case.

In a recent People interview, Alexander, who has a 20-year-old daughter, revealed that she’s “now in a very serious relationship with a lovely man,” adding, “He is very supportive and patient with me.”