Tuesday, January 20, 2015

TV Series: "NY Med" - Real Life Heroics as Addictive Entertainment Fodder

A bulky guy is rushed to the E.R. due to an excruciating genital pain. His penis has been engorged for 12 hours - a condition called "Priapism" - because he took Cialis (tadalafil, a Viagra-like drug indicated for erectile dysfunction) the night before. He was accompanied by a guy whom he met at a bar. And the staff needs to drain blood from his genitals to relieve him of the pain. Will he endure the anesthesia?

A man who has been waiting for a "liver donor" for 8 months finally gets a donor two days before his daughter's wedding. "Am I ready? No, I am not," he says and continues, "Am I prepared? Yes, I am." But he just wants to dance with his daughter before he undergoes the delicate operation. His situation then becomes iffy. While on the O.R. table waiting for his liver "in transit", the surgical team gets a belated bad news: that the donor liver has a cyst and needs to be tested for malignancy first - before the transplant could proceed. But his chest wall has already been opened up and ready for the new organ. Will the patient get his new liver before dying from persistent cholangitis?

A former Desert Storm soldier is waiting for a "heart donor" after being diagnosed with heart failure 3 years ago. But a few hours after his sedation, the transplant team learns that "one of the branches of the pulmonary artery" is injured, thus the inevitable cancellation of the procedure. The patient wakes up without a "new heart" - and has to wait again for a new donor. Here's the catch - the patient is gay and is "HIV-positive". It turns out that such cases actually prove to be good transplant candidates. Why? "Because they are compliant patients". "He's not going to die of AIDS," the doctor assures his family, "but from a failing heart." Will he get a new heart?

These are some of the gripping real-life scenarios featured in "NY Med", a medical reality TV series that premiered on ABC 2 years ago. Unlike most medical dramas, the scenes are authentic and unscripted. The series follows the medical staff and the patients of New York's Columbia Medical Center, Weill Cornell and Lutheran Medical Center. There are no sugar-coatings here. Cameras gain all-access pass to the emergency room, the wards and the operating room. How they are able to acquire permission of the people involved is nothing short of spectacular. After all, some of these snippets contain a lot of emotional baggage (which makes situations hard to manipulate) and personal issues. Moreover, ethics, foresight and discretion will play heavily into what gets shown.

There are poignant moments of utter heart-wrenching drama. The "stories" presented are never sententious nor boring. There's a sense of urgency, of either hope or hopelessness, and of empathy. Before long,  you realize that you've gotten addicted to the series because it candidly offers insight into the medical field - a field concerned with prolonging lives, alleviating pain and caring for the sick.

If you think that good-looking doctors and nurses in the real world are a rare lot, this series will change all that. Tricky situations become a tad tolerable - and more watchable - when there are eye candies around. Season 2 was shown last June. I am eagerly waiting for a copy.

A surgical resident  whose tenacious as she's beautiful. 

A well loved surgeon who undergoes colonoscopy himself to rule out malignant polyps.

A pretty nurse who gets asked for a date by one of her patients.