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Surgeons: A Matter Of Life Or Death | Preview (Channel 5)

This ground-breaking new series tells the stories of remarkable life-saving operations at one of Britain’s biggest hospitals, filmed close up with extraordinary stories of surgical skill .

With 73 centres for surgeons, University Hospitals Birmingham (a trust covering four hospitals) is a centre of excellence with the country’s most skilled doctors changing and saving lives every day with complex and awe-inspiring procedures.

Each highly immersive episode follows surgeons and their patients minute by minute in theatre as they battle with the challenges of highly complex cases. The programmes provide an unrivalled perspective onto split-second decision-making in a fight against the constant risk to life – revealing the cutting edge techniques of the expert surgeon’s craft as never before.

This week’s episode sees an urgent referral to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for 53-year-old Stephen, whose rapidly growing and aggressive mouth and jaw cancer, is a cause for critical concern. Without complex and highly invasive surgery, Stephen’s cancer will quickly spread, almost certainly killing him within a year.

For surgeons Prav Praveen and Sat Parmar, there simply isn’t a moment to lose. They need to urgently perform an extraordinary and radical procedure - removing and discarding Stephen’s jaw, two thirds of his tongue and his bottom teeth, while rebuilding the jaw using bone from his leg and creating an entirely new tongue from his own flesh – all to give their patient a chance of survival. Its apparent brutality proves to be the price of life itself.

Across the hospital, 71-year-old Hilary is facing an equally complex procedure which carries a 40% risk of death. She’s suffering from a rare carcinoid tumour which requires immediate cardiac surgery to replace two valves and close over a hole in her heart. Without surgery, consultant Ahmed Ashoub knows that Hilary’s life expectancy could be as short as six months. The problem? He needs to stop Hilary’s heart to do the operation. And given its poor condition – he knows it may well be impossible to restart it once again.

Finally, across the hospital in the Major Trauma Centre, the newest member of the Trauma Service is being thrown in at the deep end. Just four hours into her shift, Nikki receives a trauma alert – a 17-year-old male arrives by air ambulance after being hit by a car while riding his motorbike.

He has an open fracture in his lower leg, posing risks of infection and amputation. Nikki needs to immediately prepare him for surgery so that the team can realign and stabilise his broken tibia and fibula before a massive infection sets in.

Surgeons: A Matter Of Life And Death begins Thursday 20th July on Channel 5.


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