Channel 5 to visit more Extraordinary People
Channel 5 is to broadcast a new series of the Extraordinary People documentaries. The latest run of episodes will include: The Boy Who Sees Upside Down, The Boy With No Brain and Erick: The Boy with No Face.
“It’s great to see the Extraordinary People brand back in the schedule. This strand has always delivered stories with real heart, intrigue and strong emotional narratives. This new run of films delivers on all these, sensitively letting us into the lives of three brave young people both home and abroad, whose stories are an inspiration.” – Guy Davies Commissioning Editor Factual, Channel 5
In The Boy Who Sees Upside Down 12 year old Mahendra Ahirwar lives with a rare condition which leaves his neck muscles so weak he can’t lift his head up at all. Mahendra sees the world upside down and he longs to be able to see things the right way up like everyone else
Mahendra’s muscle wasting disease, congenital myopathy, makes him so weak he is too frail to support his own body. Although it’s a genetic condition, the family’s neighbours in their remote central Indian village believe the illness is a curse. Mahendra’s mother, Sumitra, is taunted, “This is your punishment for sins you have committed”. Mahendra’s father, Mukesh, a poor manual labourer, feels guilty that he has never been able to afford the medical care his son desperately needs. The parents despair, saying death may be “the only treatment left to end his misery.’. But hope has come from an unexpected source.
When Mahendra’s plight was reported on in the UK press, Julie Jones in Liverpool was so moved by his story that she decided to try and help. Julie launched a crowdfunding page online and raised £12,000 to pay for Mahendra’s hospital treatment. Dr Rajagopalan Krishnan, a leading spinal surgeon in Delhi was so moved by Mahendra’s plight that he and his team waived their fees. “No child should grow up to 12 years old without this being dealt with.”
Following extensive tests Dr Krishnan plans ground breaking surgery on the frail Mahendra. If successful it will be life changing – but it could be life threatening.
We follow the pioneering operation on Mahendra, as well as Julie’s long and emotional journey to Delhi to meet the boy. Has her fundraising changed Manhendra’s life and helped him see the world as others do?
“This is an ‘Extraordinary People’ documentary with a difference – a powerful testament to how one person’s life can be completely transformed by the compassionate intervention of a stranger on the other side of the world.” – Executive Producer Edwina Silver, Dragonfly Productions
The next episode The Boy With No Brain follows the story of Noah Wall who when born doctors didn’t believe he would survive. A scan of his head revealed he had less than 2 percent of a brain. But three years later, Noah is thriving. Leaving doctors questioning… how?
While he was in the womb, Noah developed a rare complication of spina bifida and his brain filled with fluid squashing brain down into a tiny ribbon around his skull. His mum and dad were told if he survived the birth he would be severely mentally and physically disabled. The family prepared for the worst and planned his funeral before he had taken his first breath.
However, Noah has astounded doctors the whole way. Having been told he wouldn’t even be able to take his first breath on his own Noah has somehow defied the odds to fight back against all the expectations of the medical professionals. They say we only use a small part of our brain, but Noah has had to learn how to use all of what little brain he was born with. But that’s not all he’s done. Over the past year he has done something even more remarkable – his brain has appeared to grow back. A brain scan taken when he was three years old has stumped medical professionals even further when it showed Noah’s brain had expanded to 80 percent.
Spurred on by Noah defying all the medical odds, his family are keen take him to meet world leading brain doctors to try and find out what his future might be. With access to the family’s own footage from even before he was born, we follow Noah and his family’s journey during the biggest time of their lives. Will Noah continue to be the medical miracle that he appears?
“At markthree, we thrive in seeking out extraordinary people and giving their stories a platform. Noah’s story is amazing and it was a privilege to have the opportunity to tell it. He was a joy to film – so full of beans and fun to be around with a brilliant sense of humour.” – Holly Cocker, Co-Director markthree
Erick: The Boy with No Face in the third episode is Erick John Rwabirire, 17, from Uganda, who was born with one of the rarest bone disorders ever seen, affecting just 1 in a million people in the world. It has resulted in a tumour on his face so massive that it is now the same size and weight as his head… and it is getting bigger. This medical condition leaves Erick unable to eat, drink or breathe and is slowly suffocating and starving him to death.
Cruelly, he is known as ‘The Moose Boy’ in his village because of his tumour distorted ‘moose-like’ features, this brave young man’s only chance for survival is a 24-hour emergency high risk operation which he only has a 50 per cent chance of surviving.
Erick has to travel four thousand miles away from his home and family to London to be operated on by a team of the world’s top cranial-facial surgeons from the Chelsea & Westminster hospital, headed by Mr Niall Kirkpatrick and Mr Simon Eccles. The team will use ground-breaking new techniques to re-build a new face for Erick and ultimately save his life. They have given themselves a maximum of 24 hours to complete the surgery because Eric is so weak he won’t survive any longer. This is a case of kill or cure as the surgery is fraught with danger.
We follow Eric from spring 2015 over a year on his fight to save his face and reclaim his life. With each hour that passes, Erick’s life hangs in the balance. Minute by minute we are thrown headlong into the highs and lows of the complex surgery and the emotional toll it takes on all involved.
Will this brave young man return home with a new face or will this mammoth operation leave Erick fighting for his life?
“Erick is indeed an extraordinary person – his remarkable spirit and infectious love of life means that all who meet him not only fall in love with this young man but are also determined to make his life better whatever it takes.” – Jazz Gowans, Managing Director of Transparent Television