Aces of the scalpel, to counteract an anesthetic drug

“I feel like I’m still human.” Kypros Nicolaides says he stares at the room; perhaps as a way to counteract the prejudices about an insensitive drug anesthetized by thousands of procedures that become routine. The man, born in Cyprus, specializes in fetal medicine. And it is known worldwide for laser surgery as a method of treating fetal-fetal transfusion syndrome.

The story of him and some of his patients is part of Aces scalpel, which is marked by Netflix and BBC studios. To say that the documentary series – four one-hour episodes – explores the lives of doctors is insufficient. For almost two hours, seeks to understand the personality of these pioneers in their fields. He does it from interviews in hospitals and outside hospitals and from the knowledge of his patients.

Nicolaides speaks in a compassionate tone and seems to understand the feelings of the couples who come to his practice. The profile of doctors is varied during the episodes.

Scalpel Aces, the Netflix documentary series, has four one-hour chapters.

Scalpel Aces, the Netflix documentary series, has four one-hour chapters.

Florida-based Mexican Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa embodies the history of the American dream. Specialist in the “unknown frontier of the brain,” says cHow he went from farm worker to Harvard University in just seven years. The camera accompanies him to his hometown in Mexico. And he makes some analogies – somewhat forced – between those struggles of immigrants and those against the diseases of their patients. “I feel that tumors are supernatural killers,” he says..

Liver transplant specialist Nancy Ascher tells her love for horror movies, her story family obsessed with the knowledge and challenge of being a woman in a masculine environment. He speaks with fascination of the liver. And he marvels at the operation, because the images show part of the procedure he performs with his team. “It simply came to our notice then. It is something close to perfection. It’s like a symphony. Something beautiful ”, he defines him, much more distant and less warm than his colleague from Cyprus.

Finally, Indian heart surgeon Devi Shetty tells patients that “everything will be fine by the grace of God.” AND he is proud to say that in the last twenty years he has not refused any patient for financial reasons in a poor country like India. Many consider him, of course, a deity.

The narration of the episodes, made by different directors, is clear and precise in describing procedures as complex as they are innovative. But his main success is not that, but to go beyond medicine. Interviews take the operation – at least this type of complex practice – in the category of art, which combines intellectual achievement with technical aptitude. The Mexican talks about the mystical character of his practice. The Indian reveals a “secret language” between the heart and the cardiovascular surgeon. Ascher compares it to classical music. And they all reveal personalities as specific as those of any creator, beyond stress, responsibility and other issues inherent in the psychology of the surgeon.

Aces with a scalpel.  Netflix documentary series.

Aces with a scalpel. Netflix documentary series.

In the year of the pandemic and the applause from the balcony for the medical staff, it is worth offering this documentary series a chance. A production that goes beyond the emphasis of effort and that is encouraged to play with the creative possibilities of non-fiction.

Because if?

Aces scalpel takes the work of surgeons to the artistic level and leaves the commonplaces about the profession.


Qualification: Good.

Gen: Documentary. Stars: Kypros Nicolaides, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, Devi Shetty and Nancy Ascher. Creator: Brendan McGinty. Broadcast: Netflix. Duration: four one-hour episodes.


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