Last Night’s TV – The Operation: Surgery Live

The Operation: Surgery Live

So what did you think of watching surgeon Mr Francis Wells and his team performing open heart surgery on patient David Payne last night? Was it horrible voyeurism or informative viewing? Well, I’m still not sure…

I had a personal interest in watching the operation because a mitral valve repair may be part of a larger operation that I’ll be having; my mitral valve repair will be undergone simultaneously while my aortic valve is replaced with a mechanical one. If my mitral valve can’t be repaired, it too will be replaced with a mechanical valve, so as I say, I had a particular reason to watch last night.

And it was very interesting from that regard; seeing part of what may be happening to me was useful to watch but was it interesting for anyone who isn’t imminently due to have open heart surgery or who knows someone who is? I suspect not…

As with the operation that’s due to air tonight – ‘awake’ brain surgery – I don’t think I’ll necessarily feel compelled to tune in to this one…

And last night’s show wasn’t flawless by any means in that there were technical hitches and it overran its time slot because the surgery was more complex than initially thought. And when Mr Wells asked for a break, during which the live feed to the operating theatre was cut-off, there was a tense wait as we viewers didn’t know if something had gone wrong. But, when the feed resumed a few minutes later, we were told that nothing had gone wrong and the break was because Mr Wells needed the time to concentrate on a particularly difficult part of the procedure. However, by then, the surgeon had lost his sound link to the studio, so the much hyped interaction with the surgeon didn’t really happen after that.

To be honest, it didn’t really happen before though either; questions were primarily answered by another surgeon, Sam Naschef, who was in the studio with Krishnan Guru-Murthy. But as Mr Wells himself pointed out, the operation was one that required a great deal of concentration so often he was too busy to answer questions or continue his commentary. I found that quite reassuring on Mr Payne’s behalf though; after all, who wants a distracted surgeon operating on them and clearly, Mr Wells wasn’t about to be distracted from his main concern, his patient.

Apropos of Frank Wells’ commentary though, unless you have a relatively good medical knowledge, I don’t know if you would’ve understood much of what he was saying, despite Sam Naschef trying his best to explain the ‘jargon’.

It was unfortunate too that we didn’t get to see the operation through to completion despite the fact the programme was given an extra 15 minutes, we only saw the procedure up the point where the valvular repair was complete, so we didn’t see the heart being restarted or the chest closed.

In fact, we only got to see the procedure to open Mr Payne’s chest because of the live feed down time, and for me, being someone who’s going to have a similar procedure, I would’ve liked to have seen the whole thing, literally from start to end. However, this morning, on the Facebook group page that accompanies the programme and on Channel 4’s microsite, it says that Mr Payne’s heart restarted nicely and Frank Wells was said to be “pleased” with how the surgery went, so we can probably assume that David Payne is – whilst undoubtedly very sore – stable and expected to recover well.

So, let us know what you thought of it and will you be tuning in to the remaining three operations that are due to air live?

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.