Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery (2009)
with Michael Mosley, BBC
Videos in this documentary
Documentary series looking at the brutal, bloody and dangerous history of surgery. Today, astonishing surgical breakthroughs are making face transplants, limb transplants and a host of other previously undreamed of operations possible. But getting here has not been a simple story of selfless men working tirelessly in the pursuit of medical advancement. Instead it’s a bloodstained tale of blunders, arrogance, mishap and murder. In trying to keep us alive, surgeons have all too often killed us off, and life-saving solutions have often come from the most surprising places. Accompanying a BBC series, Blood and Guts is an incredible story of stolen corpses, medical fraud, lobotomized patients – and every now and then courageous advances that have saved the lives of millions around the world. You may think twice before going under the knife…
In Blood And Guts:A History Of Surgery, presented by the medically trained Michael Mosley (multi award-winning journalist and science reporter for BBC One's The One Show), the past is brought to life through interviews, demonstrations and immersive experiments. It's a tale of medical miracles, blunders, arrogance, sacrifice and sudden moments of incredible insight. The road to surgical advance has been paved by heroes, but it has also been littered with lobotomised patients, grave robbing and neo-Nazis.
Michael plunges into ice-cold water, tests his own surgical skills against the clock, experiments on his brain, tries out botox and challenges his pain limits, as he aims to reveal how surgery developed.
Each programme in the five-part series covers a different branch of surgery. From trauma to transplants, and from cosmetic to heart and brain surgery, each episode begins by showing a cutting-edge surgical operation and then reveals the breakthroughs that made this particular operation possible.
For centuries, surgeons almost certainly killed more people than they saved. Blood And Guts and Blood: A History Of Surgery gives viewers a powerful insight into the way brilliance and error, sometimes humorous, often tragic, have shaped the evolution of modern medicine.
Here, Programme Information reveals 10 little-known facts about A History Of Surgery:
1. The father of transplant surgery, Alexis Carrel, was a French surgeon who learnt how to repair flesh from the best seamstresses in Lyon in the early 1890s. He died under suspicion of being a Nazi collaborator.
2. The first man to have a hand transplant was New Zealander Clint Hallam, in 1998. Eventually, Clint asked to have the hand amputated as it wasn't working out as well as he'd hoped.
3. An estimated 100,000 people worldwide (including 50,000 in the USA alone) have been lobotomised, including some children, largely thanks to the dedication of the infamous Walter Freeman. He invented the so-called 'ice-pick' lobotomy, using the sharp instrument to break through the skull into the brain.
4. Nose jobs first emerged in Europe in the 16th century when a breakout of syphilis raged across the continent. As well as rashes and sores, a tell-tale sign was the sinking of the nose into itself. It was seen as an amoral and unclean disease.
5. The "father of plastic surgery" was Italian Gaspare Tagliacozzi, who developed an "arm flap procedure" to replace the nose. A patient's arm had to be strapped to their nose for more than a month to allow the skin to grow from the arm onto the face. This skin would later be shaped into a nose.
6. Surgery (in particular using heart-lung machines) is only possible because of an anti-clotting agent called heparin, which is found in cows. The anti-clotting needs to be reversed at the end of the operation so that the patient doesn't bleed. Protamine, which comes from salmon sperm, is used to reverse the effect.
7. In 1946, Sir Harold Gillies, who had famously pioneered plastic surgery during the First World War, performed a hugely controversial operation âï¿½ï¿½ a sex change âï¿½ï¿½ on Laura Dillon. Laura became Michael Dillon.
8. One of the first steps towards mind control was demonstrated on a bull in Spain in the Sixties. Professor Delgado believed electro-stimulation of the brain could control behaviour. He proved his case by standing in a bull ring with an enraged bull. He then stopped the animal in its tracks at the touch of a button.
9. In 1903, American socialite and beauty Gladys Deacon had hot wax injected into her face, at the age of 22, to perfect her nose. It melted and destroyed her looks. She ended up in a psychiatric hospital where she died, in 1977, at the age of 96.
10. In the 18th century, tooth decay in aristocrats soared because of increasing access to sugar. They began implanting paupers' teeth to replace the rotten ones. At best, these dropped out after a month or two, at worst, the recipients caught syphilis or gonorrhoea.