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First Do No Harm (DVD)

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Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 1997 / Director: Jim Abrahams / Actors: Meryl Streep, Fred Ward ... / DVD released 10 July, 2000 at Odyssey / Features of the DVD: PAL

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      22.01.2005 11:13
      Very helpful



      First do no harm.." So says the hippocratic oath taken by doctors worldwide. But what if the drugs given to help your child actually make them worse.


      The Riemuller's may be poor, but they are a loving and healthy family, until the day youngest son Robbie has a Seizure. More follow and he is diagnosed with epilepsy. So begins the families hardest and most heartwrenching journey.

      As Robbies condition deteriorates, and his ever increasing regimine of drugs fail to help, his parents go in search of a miracle cure.

      Meanwhile, the drugs used to "control" Robbie's seizures not only fail to help, but affect his behaviour and development, and actually on one occasion give him a life threatening reaction.

      Finally, just as the doctors are stating that surgery is the only option remaining, his Mom, Lori, discovers information about a miracle cure, "The Ketogenic Diet", and so begins the battle to persuade the doctors to allow Robbie to try the diet.

      Throughout the film so see the effect of the epilepsy not only on Robbie, but on the whole family both emotionally and financially.

      The cast

      Lori Reimuller - Meryl Streep
      David Reimuller - Fred Ward
      Robbie Remuiller - seth Adkins
      Mark Reimuller - Michael Yarmish
      Lynne Riemuller - Marion Bennett
      Dr Abbasac - Alison Janney
      Marsha Williams - Oni Faida Lampley.

      So, you may be asking, why would a big star like Meryl Streep star in a low budget, made for TV film such as this?

      The answer is she was friends with the producer and director, Jim Abrahams, whose son went through a similar experience as Robbie, and whose seizures are now controlled by the ketogenic diet.
      This film is an attempt to publisise the diet, and therefore bring hope to those families affected by severe, uncontrolled epilepsy.

      Who should watch this film??

      This is not a film for the action junkie.

      I would recommend this film to all parents, but espcially those whose children have epilepsy.
      Being the parent of a child with severe epilepsy, I found this film invaluable, I could relate to so many of the family's experiences.

      I have also watched this film with my older children, and they can relate to Robbies brother and sister. It was been a great way for us to discuss how we all feel about epilepsy and the way it affects us.

      The inspiration

      The film is not all doom and gloom, for Robbie and many other children on the ketogenic diet there is a chance of a normal life.

      A number of the smaller parts are played by those whose lives have been changed by the ketogenic diet. These are:

      *The following info was taken from the film

      Lili's Grandmother - was played by Lorraine Brockway, who works for the Kern High School District in Bakersfield, California.
      Lorraine was on the Ketogenic diet from 1935 to 1938, and has been drug and seizure free for 62 years.

      The orderly - was played by Doug Foster, a computer consultant from Virginia Beach, Virginia.
      Doug was on the ketogenic diet from July 1960 to August 1963 and has been drug and seizure free for 36 years.

      Th medical technician - was played by Mark Taylor, an actor from Orlando, Florida.
      Mark was on the ketogenic diet from 1971 to 1975 and has been drug and seizure free for 26 years.

      Robbie's friend - was played by Charlie Abrahams (the directors son), a pre-schooler in santa Minica, California.
      Charlie has been on the ketogenic diet from 1994 to present. He is drug and seizure free.

      The extras

      Trailer - short trailer of the film

      About the film - scrolling written description of the film

      About the Stars - Detailing the careers of the two main stars.

      * Meryl Streep
      * Fred Ward

      Ketogenic Diet - Information on the ketogenic diet.

      Credit List - List of actors, director and producers.

      Photo Galley - 16 still pictures taken from the film.

      I found the information contained in the extra very informative.


      Make no mistakes this is not an easy film to watch, have a box of tissues handy as you watch Robbie deteriorate and during the final scenes after the miracle cure has been found.

      However, please don't shy away from watching this difficult and at times distressing film, the ending is worth all the tears. This film is very realistic and the emotions shown very real. Even the way the different members of the family react is very true to life.

      A fantastically well acted film!!!

      Additional Info

      Running time - 90 minutes
      Rating - PG

      Price - I purchased this dvd from play.com for £4.49

      For further information on epilepsy please visit www.epilepsy.org.uk

      Thank you for reading this review, I know it has been long, but this film deals with a subject very close to my heart.


      Do not put your epileptic child on the Ketogenic diet without the guidance and approval of a specialist, it is not suitable for every child but does help some of the most severe.


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    • Product Details

      The true story of one woman's struggle against a narrow-minded medical establishment, the film follows Lori Reimuller (Meryl Streep) as she learns of her young son Robbie's epilepsy. As Robbie's health slides radically downhill, despite the treatments offered by medical staff, she becomes increasingly frustrated and desperate. Eventually, after doing her own research into the disease, she decides to try an alternative treatment called the Ketogenic Diet, and is shocked at the hostile response from Robbie's doctor, who is prepared to take legal action to prevent Lori from getting him out of the hospital.

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