April 18, 2024

Bioethicist in Hollywood

Inspirational bio-pic about bioethicist.

Well, here’s something I never heard of before: an inspirational bio-pic about a bioethicist. Gifted Hands is a 90-minute film about Benjamin S. Carson Sr, a Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who served on the Bush Administration’s Council on Bioethics. He is a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics. In 1987, he gained world-wide recognition as the principal surgeon in the 22-hour separation of the Binder Siamese twins from Germany. This was the first time occipital craniopagus twins had been separated with both surviving. He has more than 20 honorary doctorates.

Although he is not a professional bioethicist, he has strong views. Opposing abortion is one of his more controversial stands.

Anyhow, it is his early life which is the topic of the film, which stars Cuba Gooding Jr. it is based on his 1996 autobiography. Carson is the younger son of a divorced illiterate black woman in Detroit. She was one of 24 children and married at 13 to escape a life of rural poverty – but her husband was a bigamist and she ended up raising her sons on her own, working three jobs at once.

Benjamin was bottom of the class at school, had low-self-esteem and a violent temper. His mother eventually turned the TV off and told him to read. From there, he soared ahead to Yale and then medical school, and a stellar career. More stories like this from the bioethics community would be welcome here!


Michael Cook