nineveh_uk (nineveh_uk) wrote,
nineveh_uk
nineveh_uk

BBC2 Heart Transplant: A Chance to Live

This is basically a 90 minute advert for organ donation, NHS funding, medical research and immigration. It's absolutely terrific, mixing the 'human' story with the scientific. It follows a number of patients waiting for heart transplants, with interviews with them and for the nurses and doctors caring for them. It is extremely moving; sometimes uplifting, oftentimes very sad. Apparently 70-80% of potential donor hearts have to be rejected. Look after your heart, folks: one day someone else might need it.

The medical side of how a heart transplant works is extraordinary.* Did you know that when you transplant a heart it switches itself back on once you give it some oxygenated blood? I didn't. Then there's the machine that lets you transport a heart still beating inside a plastic bag, so you have to switch it off before transplanting it to the recipient. Staggering stuff.

I should note that it includes a lot of detailed footage of heart transplants. I don't tend to be squeamish about medical detail, but nonetheless I had to look away a couple of times. And not all the patients make it.

You can watch it on iPlayer for another four days, and then repeated on BBC2 next weekend.

*Not least in that all the surgeons shown are extremely polite and calm, even while shoving a finger in the pulmonary artery they've just accidentally torn: "Suture, please. Thanks."

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Tags: real life, science, television
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