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Between Life and Death



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School Bd/College/University DVD: $249
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Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: BBC
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 50 mins
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2010
Available in French: No

Filmed over six months in Britain's leading brain injury unit, this powerful film follows the doctors who can now interrupt, and even reverse, the process of death; focusing on three patients and their families.

With the help of leading clinicians at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, this film explores the extraordinary science that sustains human life, gaining a unique understanding of a difficult topic and informing the public about the grey area between life and death.

Modern medicine has blurred the point of death, with some hospitals now carrying out pulmonary thromboendarterectomy surgery; where the patient is cooled to 18 degrees, and their entire blood circulation removed before the surgeon operates for up to an hour, at which point they are then revived. During the surgery, patients have neither heart nor brain function, and would not long ago have satisfied the requirements to be declared dead. With the boundaries changing all the time, medical teams trying to provide good clinical care in these settings face huge uncertainty and complexity.

At the Neuro Critical Care Unit (NCCU) of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, groundbreaking research is identifying the importance of the brain in determining the edge of life. Here doctors have been able to communicate with patients in a vegetative state for the first time. We follow the journey of a man who, able only to move his eyes, is eventually asked if he wants to live or die. Two other families are also plunged into the most ethically difficult decision in modern medicine.

Between Life and Death takes an unflinching look at the subject of death in a world of evolving medicine, where things that were previously thought impossible are now becoming possible.


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