Joy Ash, Producer

Joy Ash is the Producer of Baby Surgeons: Delivering Miracles.

Here, we catch up with her about why Wonderhood Studios, the production company behind Baby Surgeons: Delivering Miracles, wanted to make this series…

How did Baby Surgeons: Delivering Miracles come about? And why at St George’s?

Fetal surgery is a fascinating speciality of medicine; being able to see inside the womb is an unparalleled experience, and we felt that the pioneering work needed to be documented. We were so excited to be able to work with Professor Basky and his team and help showcase the incredible work they were doing. It felt like the right fit for the project.

Did Covid-19 affect filming?

Covid-19 changed filming plans for us drastically, we had only just started filming when the lockdown started. We quickly adapted to the new way of working within the hospital and ensured we were adding no further danger to any of the parents or staff who we were filming with. By working as a small team of two people we were able to be reactive to certain situations and we were less of an intrusion to the sensitive units on which we were filming.

How did you liaise with families and know who was suitable to approach?

We have strict protocols on how we approach patients for filming, we were led by the FMU Professors and Consultants on who they felt were appropriate for us to follow.

Only after a family had spoken with a clinician and agreed that they would like to speak with us would we then have a pre-filming conversation with the family. During this conversation we spent time talking through the filming process and the purpose of the documentary series. Prior to any filming we ensured that patients understood the purpose of the filming and how we would look to put the series together.

We filmed on a “verbal consent” basis, and consented families for filming at every step on their medical journey – this meant that they felt in control and could decide if they wished to be filmed on certain days or not. We filmed with the families and staff over the course of a year and built trust and strong relationships with those who we filmed.

What was the most interesting thing you saw during filming?

Alongside all the beautiful births we filmed, we filmed the incredible in-utero surgeries Professor Basky, Professor Asma and their team performed. They work so efficiently and with such precision, it was an honour to be able to witness the work of their team. I was equally in awe of the work of the neonatal teams in their care and kindness when treating tiny new born babies and guiding parents through some of the most complex moments in their lives.

Why did you want to be involved with this series?

I felt strongly that I wanted to be able to help give a voice to those who had not been lucky enough to have a simple or straightforward pregnancy journey. I wanted to help to raise awareness for societally complex  issues of baby loss, termination and miscarriage so that those who have similar experiences in the future hopefully won’t feel so alone.

What was the hardest part of this series? 

By filming and getting to know the families over such a long period of time we became incredibly close and invested in their journeys. When things didn’t go to plan with the pregnancies it was incredibly hard to see their pain and sadness.