- By Kevin Punsky
Netflix to feature Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon in new documentary series
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Netflix, a leading streaming entertainment service featuring TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages, will soon begin airing a new documentary series, "The Surgeon's Cut," which features an episode about Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon.
Filmed and produced by BBC Studios Production, "The Surgeon's Cut" profiles four groundbreaking surgeons from around the world, each with a visionary approach to his or her craft. Viewers will follow along as they perform innovative operations and procedures, and reveal personal insight into their journey into medicine.
The series provides a unique window into the world of surgery. Through these experts' stories, the series explores how understanding of the human body is constantly being reinvented through new discoveries and techniques.
"The Surgeon's Cut," which will premiere globally on Dec. 9, is a profoundly touching insight into surgery in the 21st century. The film follows Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa, chair of the Department of Neurologic Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Florida, where he and his team perform hundreds of brain and spine surgeries each year. Many of the patients in these surgeries are awake so that Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa can ask questions and monitor activities in the brain as patients respond. Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa uses the operating room as an extension of his research and laboratory funded by the National Institutes of Health, striving to find a cure for brain cancer.
"I see myself as a samurai that is going to fight this extraordinary monster," says Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa about a brain tumor he is about to remove from one of his patients in the film. Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa assures his patients he's in their fight with them, especially when they are anxious, vulnerable and scared. "I go in to the surgery with the objective of giving them hope when they need it the most," he says.
The four episodes in the series are:
- Episode 1: "Saving Life Before Birth"
This episode follows Kypros Nicolaides, M.B.B.S., B.Sc., who works in fetal medicine at King's College Hospital in London.
- Episode 2: "Sacred Brain"
This episode features Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D., at Mayo Clinic.
- Episode 3: "Living Donor"
This episode follows Nancy Ascher, M.D., Ph.D., who works at the University of California, San Francisco, and specializes in organ transplants.
- Episode 4: "Heart & Soul"
This episode features Devi Shetty, M.B.B.S., a cardiothoracic surgeon who founded Narayana Health, one of the largest medical centers in the world in Bangalore, India.
"There is no greater drama than the pure intensity of pioneering surgery. From lifesaving procedures on an unborn child to brain surgery on an awake patient, we've captured some of the most dramatic and technically demanding procedures in modern medicine," says James Van der Pool, executive producer, BBC Studios Production. "Each surgeon shares the unique story of how they reached the top of their field, from what first sparked their passion to the obstacles they had to overcome, be it poverty, sexism, racism or simply where they were born. The series reveals a triumph of the human spirit, an endless quest for knowledge and a fierce devotion to saving human life."
'Becoming Dr. Q'
There's a good reason BBC and Netflix chose Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa to profile in its documentary series. The world-renowned neurosurgeon's accomplishments are all the more extraordinary when you understand his life story.
When Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa, affectionately known as "Dr. Q," was just 6 years old living in Mexicali, Mexico, with no running water and little food, he would climb up to the rooftop of his house, admire the stars in the sky, and dream that something good would come of his life and he would somehow help change the world. The stars were a metaphor for the unexplored frontier that he would one day delve into as a neurosurgeon.
In 1987, at 19, homeless, undocumented and with a few dollars in his pockets, he came to the U.S. and became a migrant worker in California's San Joaquin Valley. There he survived two harrowing brushes with death. After working in the farm fields, he labored as a welder and took English lessons at a community college at night. Some 12 years later, Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa graduated from Harvard Medical School as class valedictorian and became an American citizen.
But it wasn't until he watched an awake brain surgery while a medical student at Harvard Medical School that he fell in love with neurosurgery. Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa was fascinated by how this organ, which so little is known, makes people the people they are. The same hands that once picked tomatoes in the fields of California have helped him perform more than 2,500 surgeries over the past 15 years, many on patients who thought they had inoperable brain tumors.
"The reason I chose to study and work on the brain is because it's still the unexplored frontier. I was fascinated that such an amazing organ can create memories and allow us to love each other," Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa says.
As a child, Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa watched his younger sister die from diarrhea and dehydration because his family could not afford medical care. He vowed that he would spend his life to find a way to help people like her.
So in 2010, Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa created Mission: Brain, a nonprofit foundation that brings together world-class neurosurgeons, nurses, residents, anesthesiologists and doctors from other disciplines — many from Mayo Clinic — to perform and assist with complex neurological surgeries for patients in underserved areas of the world who could never afford treatment.
Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa's story is legendary. So much so that The Walt Disney Co., Annapurna Pictures and Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment Inc. have joined forces to develop a full-length feature movie based on "Becoming Dr. Q," a book about his incredible life.
About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news and Mayo Clinic Facts for more information about Mayo.
- Kevin Punsky, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org