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  • Hannah Jones

    Hannah Jones – The Girl Who Said No To A New Heart, was transmitted on BBC1 at the beginning of 2010 and it took over a year to produce.

    I met Hannah at the end of 2008. A few months earlier she had refused a potentially life saving heart transplant. She was only thirteen years old but her decision had caused much debate and controversy. Many felt that Hannah was too young to be allowed to make such a decision for herself.

    I hoped that the documentary would give much clearer insight intowhat led Hannah to refuse a transplant and also understanding the emotions that Hannah and her family experienced on a daily basis. Knowing that the consequences of Hannah’s decision could result in her dying at any moment.

    Hannah was a very quiet, insular teenager who had spent much of her life restricted to living in her bedroom, understandably she was reluctant to talk about her illness. With very few locations in which I could film I introduced the format of the video diary to Hannah, which I hoped would allow her to open up away from her parents and peers.

    One of the many challenges that faced me, was attempting to make a documentary that wasn’t completely retrospective and solely talking heads. It was critical that we followed  Hannah in her day to day life even though that presented many difficulties. Hannah’s refusal and the media furore had made many people surrounding Hannah unwilling to talk. Through sensitive negotiations, close family, teachers and the medical profession all eventually agreed to participate in the film.

    Through what I hoped was my sensitive approach we gradually gained more access and although reluctant to talk about her illness, Hannah enjoyed being the centre of attention. Having filmed her at school and out with her friends, Hannah appeared to be gaining strength and confidence. Ultimately enjoying opportunities and experiences that most teenagers her age take for granted, which eventually led to her taking her ever first active holiday. Over three days in Cornwall we witnessed a young girl begin to really begin to enjoy life.

    Despite all her new found confidence, Hannah was soon told that her heart condition had worsened to such a point that doctors didn’t think she had longer than a month to live. She was given a final opportunity to change her mind about the transplant. It was a delicate time and Hannah made it clear that she wanted to enjoy her birthday before making a decision.

    One week later Hannah made another life changing decision and through delicate negotiations with Great Ormond Street Hospital we were on hand when Hannah went to have the heart transplant we thought she would never have.

    This documentary required immense patience and delicate negotiations throughout. The final result I hope is a testament to my skills as a self shooting producer.

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