Tuesday, 6 April 2010

GOSH for Children

Today I've seen one of the most heart-rending documentaries ever.

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children is renowned for its work in saving the lives of young children. This programme tonight, the first in series of three, is called 'Pushing the Boundaries' - and it is extremely difficult to watch. But having started to watch it is impossible NOT to watch.

The surgeons in this dedicated hospital are super-human. I cannot believe how they can carry on working under such pressure, from the parents and from the job itself.

Every age group in children is included. From a 2-day old baby upwards. Some marvellous successes. Some terrible heartbreaking failures too.

One very young girl had a serious vascular problem which would certainly be fatal unless operated on had eight hours on the operating table. The operation to fix her vascular problem was successful. However, her parents were devastated to learn that one of her kidneys had to be removed. Also that she was now brain damaged. And that she was blind as a result of the surgery! But she would live. Later, some weeks later, her sight returned, so it was not all doom and gloom.

A really harrowing case of a 9 year old lad who'd had a heart valve operation a few years ago was again seriously ill. The surgeons decided that a further valve repair was no longer an option. The heart specialists discussed the option of a heart transplant. With the parents and the little boy present.

They explained to the boy that they knew he did not want to have another operation but that he would be very ill if nothing was done. So would he like to have a new heart and be completely better.

"Will it hurt me when you cut my body open?" he asked. "No, it will be painless; you will not feel a thing."

"Where will you get my new heart from?" he asked. Very gently the surgeon explained that it would be given by somebody who had no more need of the heart because they had died from something else. "Well, what will happen to my heart when you take it out?" he continued to ask. Again the specialists explained that parts of his old heart could be used to help somebody else.

Eventually everything was agreed and the transplant went ahead. Two weeks later the young boy died.

The way these doctors deal with these harrowing cases astounds me. They are clearly deeply concerned for the children and parents concerned but they have to make such demanding decisions. I have great respect and admiration for them all, but I could never be strong enough to attempt a tenth of what they do.

Amazing and highly emotional stuff.


Star said...

Yes and it's all in a day's work too isn't it. Like you I can only admire their dedication and strength and wish that I too could be as useful.
Blessings, Star

thistledew said...

I too watched that documentary last night, and, like you I was riveted to the screen, (something that does not happen very often).
The bravery of the children, parents and indeed the consultants, surgeons and other staff, humbled me.
Perhaps our greedy, lying, politicians watched as well. They could certainly learn a thing or two, about what really matters in this life.
Regards, David.

the walking man said...

Unfortunately the conversations here would never have gotten beyond the how is it going to be paid for stage.

Vera said...

Sometimes programmes like this help one count the blessings one has in one's live, which are often over looked in the day to day pressures of living. I didn't see the programme but can imagine the impact it would have had. I visited this hospital years ago and it was a warm and gentle place to be, so much different to other hospitals which I find cold and unfriendly.

scarlethue said...

Wow, I avoid stuff like that. I mean I know it happens but it just makes me so sad. Bless those doctors.

Argent said...

This is why medicine is a calling I think, rather than just a job. But what a splendid thing it is that there are people willing to do that difficult job - I know I couldn't.

PhilipH said...

Thank you all for your comments. I sometimes wonder if we expect far too much from medical experts today.

I mean, if you go back just 50 or 60 years it simply was not possible to do anything like some of the procedures that are carried out nowadays.

What will it be like in another 50 years? In some ways I dread to think of what might be possible. I fully appreciate that parents and relatives always want their loved ones to be kept alive - whatever the cost and risks, but there must be limits ... surely?

I await the next programme with some trepidation, but I'll be glued to the screen again!

Pauline said...

Sounds like a great, thought provoking programmes. Obviously it made an impact on you.
I don't know how people do jobs like that. I know I couldn't.

The Bug said...

I know I couldn't be one of those doctors - always having to be in the midst of all that pain & just rise above it to do their jobs. More power to them!

Land of shimp said...

It is amazing, Philip. Can you imagine in the days before medicine became such a wonder, what it was like to have a sick child? I can't, and I am so glad that I cannot.

The easiest way to get me to give a donation -- although I confess, I'm not exactly the ungettable get in that department -- is anything having to do with sick children. Yet, it isn't just a fear-based thing. It isn't a case of "That frightens me so deeply, I reach into my pockets as if warding off a demon."

It is that we live in a time where there are so many solutions, so many treatments. An end to suffering, as soon as possible.

So it isn't just about fear, that these things touch us. It's heartbreak mixed with wonder, and gratitude, I guess.

I hope you're well, Philip :-)

PhilipH said...

Pauline, Bug and Shimpy, thanks very much form your response. Great Ormonde Street Hospital seem to perform virtual miracles on the children they care for.

It is heartbreaking for everyone, including the surgeons and nurses, when they fail in some cases - but their success rate far exceeds their failures.