TRUE STORIES UNCUT – EXTREME SURGERY: WOMAN WITH HALF A FACE
This moving documentary follows the lives of two people suffering from a rare genetic disorder that has left their faces severely disfigured. Despite trying to lead normal lives, the stares and whispers are difficult to ignore. The pair meet with a world-renowned plastic surgeon who they hope will help change their lives.
Angel McGraw is a Michigan woman in her early 20s who has a four-year-old daughter. She loves shopping, regularly participates in church events and spends as much time as she can with her daughter. But Angel suffers from neurofibromatosis, or NF, a genetically transmitted disease that has taken over half of her face with disfiguring tumours. Most experts believe that the legendary Elephant Man, who lived in 19th century London, was most likely suffering from this same insidious disease. Though Angel would love to work for a living, it’s been impossible to get a job due to her disfigurement. Daniel Strube is in his mid-30s. He is divorced and the proud father of a four-year-old girl. He also suffers from NF. Daniel’s entire face is disfigured by tumour, but he has never seen the extent of his disfigurement because he also is blind. Daniel has mastered Braille, is articulate and has a wonderful voice. He also has become a public speaker and regularly gives inspirational speeches on the importance of over-coming one’s own problems. By a strange coincidence, both Daniel and Angel live in the same town – Grand Rapids, Michigan. Both of these NF victims learned of a world-renowned plastic and re-constructive surgeon based in Chicago. His name is Dr. McKay McKinnon and he made history by successfully removing a 200-pound NF tumour. Both Daniel and Angel journey to Chicago to seek a surgical solution to their terrible disfigurement. This documentary is about their individual stories of surgery and hope. Dr. McKinnon tells them that it’s not going to be easy. Each patient will need to undergo a series of surgeries and they will also suffer great pain as their faces heal after each surgery. Both patients opt for surgery. Neither expects to be transformed into the ideal of beauty, but both hope that Dr. McKinnon will help them regain some dignity and normalcy. All Angel and Daniel want more than anything is to do the little things most of take for granted, such as the ability to take one’s daughter to a park or a restaurant or a store without eliciting screams, murmurs or expressions of shock and disgust from the other people. All they want, is that most underrated blessing offered any human being: the ability to simply blend into the crowd and look like everyone else. The challenge now is whether Dr. McKinnon can help them realise their dreams.
TRUE STORIES UNCUT – EXTREME SURGERY: WOMAN WITH HALF A FACE, Friday 25th January at 9:30pm