'The Surgeon's Cut' Episode 1: Who is Dr Kypros Nicolaides? Fetal medicine expert is known as 'miracle doctor'
Patient Daniela was referred to Dr Kypros from the Fetal Medicine Unit in Newcastle and unfortunately, the couple's first pregnancy didn't go as planned
Spoilers for 'The Surgeon's Cut'
The beginning of the episode is a stark reminder of how the mind of a medical specialist works. "Life is accompanied by death before birth", the audience hears Dr Kypros Nicolaides say. Dr Kypros has devoted his life towards comprehending how baby/babies (in the case of twins) can be saved in situations where they would have otherwise died — he is an expert fetal medicine doctor who receives referrals from patients all over the world.
"He's a giant, a pioneer, everything important in pregnancy he has had an impact on. He's saved hundreds of lives, he's a model," the audience hears a colleague, Dr Yves Ville, speak of Dr Kypros. With 200 complex procedures under his belt annually, Dr Kypros takes up cases of women that have been told that something is "seriously" wrong with their pregnancy and that their baby or babies could die. Here is how he does it.
Patient Daniela was referred to Dr Kypros from the Fetal Medicine Unit in Newcastle and unfortunately, the couple's first pregnancy didn't go as planned. Their twins had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, as discovered in the second scan. The syndrome affects identical twins because the duo share blood supply connected to each other by blood vessels — one twin was getting most of the blood and was dying because his tiny heart couldn't cope, while the other was dying because he wasn't getting enough blood.
Each of the babies needed to have their own supply. Dr Kypros used laser surgery to cut the blood vessels that connect the twins while Daniela was awake on local anesthesia and holding on to both Dr Kypros's arm and that of her husband. The laser fiber burned the blood vessels that connect the twins sealing the blood vessels so that blood doesn't transfer. Unfortunately, the smaller twin didn't survive — something Dr Kypros made aware to the parents — but the bigger twin was born 23 weeks later, healthy.
The first time the operation that Daniela went through happened was in 1992 where a 27 week scan revealed that a young couple Linda and John's twins may not survive. At that time, the couple was referred to a young Dr Kypros described to be a "mad Greek professor" — he was their babies' only chance. Dr Kypros told the parents that they were thinking of a "new procedure" and while no one had any idea if the procedure would work, he said that his patients encourage him saying that he "must try."
In 1992, the surgery hadn't been done before, and while Dr Kypros initially worried that the laser could cause a massive hemorrhage, a miracle was born. The surgery had worked, the babies were both healthy — and as the documentary showed, still alive — and a new procedure was established. Not only did Dr Kypros perform a world-first operation, but also became a godfather to the twins, and one of the twins was named after him.
Dr Ville explains that Dr Kypros as a doctor was "born with ultrasound" as we hear the story of how Dr Kypros came to be who he is from the legend himself. In the '70s his father decided that Dr Kypros would go to England to study medicine, and although at the beginning he wasn't interested in the field at all — he was more involved in left-wing movements — his last year proved to change his life.
When a new professor, a great pioneer of ultrasound, arrived, Dr Kypros reveals that when the transducer was put on the mother's abdomen, a miracle happened: "a new patient appears on the screen, that is how fetal medicine is born," he says.
It was around this time that he had the idea of using a telescope inside the mother's uterus and using a laser to help with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. Dr Ville further revealed that there was pressure from the critics who thought Dr Ville and Dr Kypros were doing more harm than good, but their work spoke in their statistics — now, there was a 90% chance of at least one twin surviving, when before it was the literal opposite.
While Dr Kypros admits to being under "enormous pressure" due to high expectations, it seems that the man is the epitome of what a doctor should be. Using his father's — also a doctor — way of working, he was able to establish his own career, and continued to go against "established trends". Unfortunately, Dr Kypros was diagnosed with blood cancer this year.
"I was under the impression I was immortal," he said. But he takes his tablets and his injection — a form of modern chemotherapy that has minimal side effects and he goes right back to his patients. 'Saving Life Before Birth' shows you two more cases (a diaphragmatic hernia and another case of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome) of how Dr Kypros works and how he wants to continue to develop "new methods, validate them, and spread new techniques".
In a recent interview when asked what his future holds, Dr. Kypros said, "My dream is to continue to work, I intend to carry on working until I die, there is no such concept in my mind as retirement." 'The Surgeon's Cut' is now available to stream on Netflix.