Tonight, for the first time ever, viewers from across the world can tune in to National Geographic Channel to watch Brain Surgery Live, which is, as its name suggests, a live broadcast of brain surgery. In a procedure known as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a team of neurosurgeons at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland will attempt to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that have manifested themselves in patient Greg Grindley, a 49-year-old electrician who will have the unique experience of having his brain shown to television audiences everywhere. The two-hour program will premiere Sunday evening at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, and promises to give “reality television” a whole new meaning.
Grindley will be awake for the entirety of the procedure, as he will have to tell the surgeons, led by Dr. Jonathan Miller, how he feels as they place a series of four electrodes in his brain. And while Miller notes that DBS is “not a truly cutting-edge procedure,” as the technology has existed for well over a decade and is performed quite frequently, he adds, “A lot of people aren’t aware that we have these therapies available and a lot of patients suffer needlessly. Our goal is to publicize the problem and the solution.”
The patient concurs with his doctors’ desire to increase awareness about both the prevalence and treatment of Parkinson’s. “We made this decision together as a family to share this experience with the world,” Grindley said in an interview, “to open other people’s eyes to the remarkable procedure, and to give hope to those who are also suffering from tremors and Parkinson’s.”
If all goes well with the DBS procedure, Grindley’s tremors may be significantly reduced. The ultimate goal for this particular case of early onset Parkinson’s, doctors say, is to make it “so [Grindley’s] always on his best” when it comes to living with the disease.
The show, which will be hosted by Bryant Gumbel, former co-anchor of CBS News’ The Early Show, aims to educate and demystify. “We’re touting this as not just live brain surgery, but also a celebration of the brain, which remains one of the great mysteries of the universe,” Gumbel told CBS This Morning Thursday. Making brain surgery seem more approachable has the “potential to address a lot of problems,” Gumbel added.
So here’s hoping — and best of luck Dr. Miller and Mr. Grindley!