Your life in their hands

Director: BBC
Year: 2004
Country: UK
Rating: N/A

Filed under: Psychiatry, Documentary

Henry Marsh, now based at St George's Hospital in London, is one of the busiest and most pioneering neurosurgeons in the country. Drawn to brain surgery after his three-month-old son was diagnosed with a brain tumour he is acutely aware that, 'You're operating on people's thoughts and feelings. It is not just life and death, if an operation goes wrong, you change people.' It's dangerous work - a slip of his scalpel could paralyse someone, erase their memories or alter their personality forever. Henry's patient Adrian looks like a typical thirty year old, he plays football, drinks with his mates, is deeply in love with his wife, Charlotte, and feels at the peak of health. However, Adrian and Charlotte are devastated when he is diagnosed with a tumour very close to the speech area of his brain. Without an operation it will almost certainly kill him within a few years. Henry proposes a radical procedure to try and save Adrian. He will operate on Adrian's brain while he is awake, enabling Henry to monitor Adrian's speech as the tumour is removed and hopefully minimising any permanent brain damage. It is the best chance Adrian has to prolong his life, but if something goes wrong he could lose the power of speech, or worse. (Aired BBC1, Monday 8 March 2004, 21:00)

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This Biomedical Ethics Film Library is being presented in partnership with European Medical Students' Association (EMSA)