Surgery Saved My Life

Common Sense Media says

Real health dramas make good medicine.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show's focus is on helping people feel better and live healthy lives.


Some surgical operations can be quite bloody and require forceful pulling, squeezing, and stretching.


Some naked body parts, but nothing sexually suggestive; no genitals.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this intense reality show focuses on patients undergoing surgery in life-threatening situations. Viewers learn, in detail, why a person's life is at risk. In one show about spine surgery, for example, viewers find out how a deformed spine presses in on the lungs, making it hard for the patient to breathe. Subjects are sometimes children, making the situations even more emotional. Scenes from the surgery include close-up shots of the inside of bodies, including shots of blood, bone, and organs.

Parents say

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Kids say

What's the story?

The documentary-style series SURGERY SAVED MY LIFE follows people with life-threatening diseases or injuries as they undergo surgery and face the serious physical risks and emotional repercussions of their procedures. In addition to the personal stories, viewers get all the details of the surgeries themselves -- both by watching the actual operations (complete with bloody close-ups) and through digital representations of the repairs. The stories are often intense and emotional, as in one episode that introduced viewers two children stricken with scoliosis -- one living in New York and the other in Sierra Leone. The children have the same surgeon, who grew up poor in Ghana, and while the doctor is equally kind to both his young patients, viewers can't help but feel the sharp contrast in the type of medical care received by the two children because of their environments.

Is it any good?


Teens interested in medicine or social issues -- as well as those with any familiarity with disease or serious injury -- may well be fascinated by this well-made program. And even those without a connection to the issue might find the personal stories compelling. That said, due to the emotional nature of the life-or-death situations, parents may want to watch along with their kids (or at least be on hand to comfort and explain as necessary) and consider keeping especially sensitive children away all together.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about medicine and science. What aspects of medicine do teens find most fascinating? Are there any budding doctors in the house? What part of practicing medicine would be the most fulfilling? The most challenging? What surgical methods or instruments seem the most technologically advanced? Which seem the most crude? Do you think real-life medical problems belong on TV?

TV details

This review of Surgery Saved My Life was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byPoisonrocks October 9, 2012


so appropiate!
Adult Written April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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