I don’t know what is it about this programme but, whenever it’s on, you can’t tear your eyes away from it?
You may be channel surfing, looking for something else entirely, when you catch a glimpse of 24 Hours in A&E and then, suddenly, you’re hooked - you just can’t look away until you know whether the person featured is going to be okay. It’s a welcome relief when the footage cuts away to them months later, looking fit and well.
Here’s hoping that the first person admitted in this new series of the fly-on-the-wall documentary to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London, has a happy ending to their story.
Kerry is a 29-year-old dental nurse from Essex, who arrives in an emergency air ambulance having crashed her motorbike, severing her right leg below the knee in the process.
Her grandparents, Dennis and Angie, arrive soon afterwards, having been at the scene of the accident.
“We got there and saw Kerry laying in the ditch,” says Dennis. “I see these two fellas running up and down the road.
“They didn’t know who I was and I said ‘Excuse me, what are you looking for?’ and he said ‘We’re looking for the young girl’s leg’.”
Kerry is classified as a ‘code red’, which means her condition is very serious indeed. Specialists from seven different departments are called in to treat her.
“When you say ‘code red’, you get a patient who’s lost a lot of blood and they are critically unwell,” explains consultant Jai. “If you cut off your lower limb, the worst thing that can happen is that they can lose the whole volume of blood and as a result your heart goes into cardiac arrest.”
But the medics need to stabilise Kerry before they can send her for a CT scan to see if it’s possible to re-attach her leg. “Time is very critical when we are considering re-attachment of the leg,” says consultant Jai. “But the first priority is always life. Limb comes second after life.”
Then 11-year-old Luke is admitted following a prolonged epileptic seizure. He has up to three such episodes a week, and his condition has left him with severe learning difficulties.
“Do I resent my son’s illness? No, absolutely not. Do I become jealous of parents who have ‘normal’ children? Without a doubt,” says Luke’s dad, Jack. “You’re different from other people, that’s the way it’s going to be, it’ll probably be that way for the rest of your life...it’s not even clear if he’s going to outlast me or I’m going to outlast him.”
The final person featured is 19-year-old Tina. She has a sewing needle stuck in her foot, which sounds painful but not quite as dramatic as the cases that have preceded it. What’s extraordinary is that Tina is more interested in listening to advice from her mother in Lithuania than to Mo, the doctor treating her.
Well, as the saying goes, mum knows best.
24 HOURS IN A&E, Thursday 9pm, Channel 4