Take two doses: Operation Ouch! hosts Drs Chris (left) and Xand van Tulleken aim to empower young viewers with medical knowledge.
Through the educational TV series, 'Operation Ouch!', the Tulleken doctors hope children (and their parents) will get over their fear of hospitals.
The sight of a doctor holding up a syringe is the stuff of nightmares for most children. That and the fear of pain make going to the hospital a daunting experience for young ones.
For twin doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken, the best medicine to overcome fear of hospitals is simply a little bit of understanding.
“As a doctor, what’s very useful is when patients understand their disease. It tends to make doctors behave better. In return, patients get more and better treatment from their doctors,” said Xand in a phone interview.
The Oxford University medical graduate doctors are the hosts of Operation Ouch!, an educational series aimed at helping kids overcome their fear of going to the hospital. Chris chipped in on how they want this series to be about empowering young viewers.
“Medical issues can be quite complicated and potentially scary for kids. But on the other hand, kids are also very fascinated by disgusting stuff like snot and farting. So what we wanted to do was make an educational programme that would enable them to interact more with doctors.”
He added: “And most importantly, (the show) would be entertaining for them.”
Operation Ouch! features a segment where the doctors experiment on each other to show how the human body works.
“A child wrote to us and wanted to know why when you vomit, it comes out of your nose.
“So we did an experiment where I put a tube through Xand’s nose into his stomach, got him to drink different-coloured liquids and then suck up the liquids through the nose tube,” said Chris.
Does it sound dangerous? Chris acknowledged that it is and that’s why the segment is called Don’t Try This At Home.
“It’s a very unpleasant thing to do. We’re only able to do it because we’re both doctors and we do things quite carefully.”
Xand also said the show will explore some bizarre medical treatments.
“Chris will go visit a fly farm where they grow maggots for the use of therapy to heal wounds. I’ve used that in the hospital myself and it still surprises me that we use this medieval treatment to clear up wounds,” revealed Xand.
Apart from human body experiments and medical maggots, the show also allows viewers to experience the inner workings of an emergency unit in a children’s hospital.
“We want to show things that happened to kids and the lessons to be learned behind it. But we can’t show things that are too gruesome or unpleasant.
“So we try to film stories that are a right mix of educational, interesting and informative. There’s always a happy outcome. We want to show others kids being fixed,” said Chris.
Though some of the accidents can be quite squeamish – from a nasty eye injury, removing foreign objects from body to broken toenails – Xand wants viewers to know that “it’s about reassuring kids” that everything will be OK.
“There will be paramedics and doctors who can help them quickly and efficiently. And the other thing is to show viewers the range of cool equipment we’ve got in the hospital.”
The good–humoured doctors also made it clear that they will constantly remind young viewers not to imitate what happens in an emergency room, at home.
“We’re very conscious to try and show kids ‘Please don’t stick things up your nose’. At the same time, we want to remind them that if you do stick something up your nose, go to a hospital and we’ll be able to fix you,” said Chris.
Operation Ouch! premieres July 31 at 5pm on Discovery Kids (HyppTV Ch 561).