A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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.
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.
Talk to your kids 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?