The Fifth Estate Presents Hannah’s Heart

Friday, March 19, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT), on CBC-TV

Hannah Jones has spent most of her 13 years in hospitals. At age four, she was diagnosed with leukemia, but the chemotherapy that saved her life also damaged her heart. Hannah’s heart is failing and her only chance to keep on living rests with a risky heart transplant. Now, though barely into adolescence, it is Hannah who must decide what to do.

In Hannah’s Heart, the fifth estate’s Bob McKeown presents this moving story, prepared by the BBC, about the British girl whose heart is weak but whose spirit is strong. Hannah tells her family that she’s had enough of hospitals and doctors and refuses the operation even though the medical prognosis is clear: Hannah is dying. Her parents, Kirsty and Andrew, bravely support their daughter’s right to choose, even though it leaves them with their own kind of heartbreak, and then, makes them objects of public criticism when Hannah’s decision comes to dominate newspaper headlines in the U.K.

The public debate centres on the ethics of allowing a 13-year-old to make a life-or-death decision or whether authorities should intervene and force her to have the transplant. As that debate rages, the documentary cameras follow Hannah and her parents through their intimate, difficult journey to a final decision. As they move through their normal family routines, they are always aware that every day with Hannah could be their last one. 

Executive producer of the fifth estate is Sally Reardon. CBC News Network rebroadcasts the fifth estate on Saturdays, at 8 p.m. ET, Sundays, at 7 p.m. ET, and Tuesdays, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

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