Surgeon Gabriel Weston has spent many years studying the workings of the human body. In this new series, Incredible Medicine, airing on Wednesday 22 Feb at 9.00pm on BBC Two, she introduces us to people from across the globe, individuals with the world’s most unique bodies.
Using the latest technology and with the help of leading scientists, Dr Weston uncovers the secrets of their bodies and reveals what makes them unique. By studying the rarest of cases, scientists hope to develop the treatments and even cures of the future.
In episode one, we meet seven year-old Virsaviya, who was born with her heart on the outside of her ribcage. Desperate to find someone who could help, Virsaviya’s mother moved them from Russia to the US where scientist Dr Bob Adelstein, a molecular biologist, is at the cutting edge of research into this rare and life threatening condition.
Dr Gabriel Weston asks how it’s possible for record- breaking free diver Veljano Zanki’s brain to survive so long without fresh oxygen, and finds the answer could help in the treatment of people who suffer from cardiac arrests.
Jeannie Peeper has a condition so rare it affects only one in every two million people, as her body is growing an extra skeleton where there should be muscle. As a result Jeannie is now confined to a wheelchair. When some might have given up hope, Jeannie was keen to find someone who could tell her what was happening to her body and perhaps even to develop a cure. Her work with orthopaedic surgeon Dr Fred Kaplan has led to a significant medical breakthrough.
Tom Staniford’s body is a mystery to medical science: unable to store fat under his skin making him clinically underweight yet at the same time suffering from type 2 diabetes, a disease typically associated with those overweight. Tom’s condition was thought to be unique but a breakthrough came when another patient with the same rare symptoms was identified, helping inform the study of diabetes more generally.
Harnaam Kaur’s body produces too much testosterone, because of a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome – or PCOS – and so causes her to grow a beard. By studying an extreme case scientists hope to be able to provide treatments individually tailored to the workings of each woman’s body.
After losing a leg in the Iraq War, Bryan Wagner still experienced pain in a limb that was no longer there. For the first time Bryan meets the professor who developed a cure for his excruciating condition. He found a simple solution – to trick Bryan’s brain into thinking the leg was still there – yet the experiment has transformed the way we think about the brain.
In a freak accident, college student Ian Burkhart suffered a severe spinal cord injury. He was diagnosed as being quadriplegic, and confined to a wheelchair. Challenging the idea that spinal cord injuries are beyond the scope of medical science doctors working with a team of electrical engineers have implanted a chip in Ian’s brain that can read and convert his thoughts into electrical impulses that allow Ian to move his arm once more.
Incredible Medicine: Dr Weston’s Casebook Episode 1 (of 6) airs on Wednesday 22 February 2017 from 9.00pm-10.00pm on BBC Two.