Reviews TV

Miracle Workers

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 16 March 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:673
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne, medical journalist (
  1. New York

    Each episode of this reality television show, which began last week, tells the story of two people whose serious medical problems have not so far been helped by the high tech US medical system. Guided by two attractive doctors and two extremely attractive nurses, and sponsored by a chain of drug stores, the “contestants” are given “cutting edge” care—cutting edge as in surgery, the programme often reminds viewers. In each episode we follow the patients from the initial consultation with the medical team that will treat them to the treatment itself—“state-of-the-art special effects will take viewers inside the patients' bodies”—and the results.

    One of the two patients in the first episode is Todd Heritage, a 34 year old hospital assistant who has been blind for the past 22 years because of a Stevens-Johnson reaction to penicillin. Three times he has major surgery to repair his scarred corneas, apparently involving several corneal transplants, but in each case the transplant has become scarred. “It's like trying to see through a potato chip [crisp],” his surgeon says later, as he holds …

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