Heart of a Child

Relatively unexplored field of infant heart transplants is subject of fact-based TV movie. While not framed as a tract against abortion (word, in fact , is never mentioned), Susan Nanus' script presents a strong argument for alternatives, even in what seem like hopeless cases.

With:
Cast: Ann Jillian, Michele Greene, Terry O'Quinn, Bruce Greenwood, Malcolm Stewart, Rip Torn, John Procaccino, Matt Walker, Andrew Wheeler, Jane MacDougal, Joel Palmer, William B. Davis, Sheila Moore, Doris Chillcott, Cindy Girling, Teayl Rotherly, Veena Sood, Colleen Winton, Jerry Wasserman, Peter Yunker, Stephen Miller, Greg Hunka, Norma Wick, Ric Reid, Tim Burd, Susan Regamble, Paul Holc, Jason Holc.

Relatively unexplored field of infant heart transplants is subject of fact-based TV movie. While not framed as a tract against abortion (word, in fact , is never mentioned), Susan Nanus’ script presents a strong argument for alternatives, even in what seem like hopeless cases.

Beginning segments alternate between two couples: Gordon and Alice Holc (Terry O’Quinn, Ann Jillian) and Bruce and Karen Schouten (Bruce Greenwood, Michele Greene). Both women are pregnant, though doctors discover that the Holcs’ fetus has a defective heart, and the Schoutens’ has a defective brain; neither is expected to live more than a day or so past birth.

Moral issue that does come up is whether heart should be removed from a baby, even a brain-dead one, if it results in infant’s death. Decision is made by medics and parents, without consultation of legal, religious or other philosophical authorities, though doctor does pray before performing transplant.

Only doctor in hemisphere capable of this kind of transplant is Leonard Bailey (Rip Torn), at Loma Linda Hospital in Southern California. Connections are made, and eventually the Holcs are flown in from Vancouver and the baby’s heart from Toronto. Both flights are hindered by a storm that covers most of North America, creating sudden outburst of suspense that continues through transplant surgery. In tear-jerking climax, Karen Schouten visits 5-year-old Paul, played by real-life Paul Holc.

Melodramatic elements are given priority over facts in pic — we aren’t sure what either family does for a living, though neither seems to be wealthy. Money never seems to be a consideration in their decision-making, and no charges are mentioned.

Acting under Sandor Stern’s direction varies from so-so in many minor roles to solid perfs from principals — Greene, especially. Torn has little to do but exude authority, which, of course, he does. Remaining tech credits are OK.

Heart of a Child

(Mon. (9), 9-11 p.m., NBC)

Production: Filmed in Vancouver by O'Hara, Horowitz Prods. Executive producers, Lawrence Horowitz, Michael O'Hara; co-exec producer, Susan Nanus; producer, Michelle MacLaren; co-producers, Steven Rosenfeld, Kathryn McArdle; director, Sandor Stern; writer, Susan Nanus.

Crew: Camera, Laszlo George; editor, Caroline Biggerstaff; production design, Douglas Higgins; sound, Mark Holden; music, Mark Snow.

Cast: Cast: Ann Jillian, Michele Greene, Terry O'Quinn, Bruce Greenwood, Malcolm Stewart, Rip Torn, John Procaccino, Matt Walker, Andrew Wheeler, Jane MacDougal, Joel Palmer, William B. Davis, Sheila Moore, Doris Chillcott, Cindy Girling, Teayl Rotherly, Veena Sood, Colleen Winton, Jerry Wasserman, Peter Yunker, Stephen Miller, Greg Hunka, Norma Wick, Ric Reid, Tim Burd, Susan Regamble, Paul Holc, Jason Holc.

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