Written by By Cary A. Brown, CNN
It’s a sight all mothers know well: From a distance, the babies pressed against the woman’s breasts, sleepy faces, as babies, ready to be told they’re “just fine.”
For infected mothers, though, it’s a refrain that never ends.
The Stories of Cured Infants aired earlier this month, a series of documentaries produced by @[email protected] and @Ola and promoting the invaluable work of The Peking Hematologist and Oncologist Foundation. Three-minute images of babies being born after treatment with the revolutionary “maquiladentine” treatment for viral encephalitis generated powerful reactions from social media.
Facebook and Twitter exploded with comments about the babies and their mothers, and the show resonated with a higher percentage of women than usual.
It’s a surprise for the people involved, many of whom never anticipated so much reaction from their work.
The Los Angeles-based filmmakers Ron Kenken and Alex Gaytan met Yvonne Chung, the protagonist in their story, when she was recovering from a stroke and felt the cameras interested her.
They soon realized, however, that the project was bigger than Chung, or even mothers in general. “We saw her story and realized the whole landscape changed,” Kenken said.
Women now had choice
When it comes to the medical treatment for encephalitis, it’s an area that’s been half-baked for years. It’s not exactly understood what causes it, and the medication is making a difference.
That’s why it’s surprising that mothers were the ones taking on the burden of caring for their small children. “So much of the difficulty is on their shoulders and on their children,” Gaytan said.
The filmmakers reached out to Chung, and set about shooting scenes at home, as well as with her at work, where she hoped the cameras would help her face the challenge of one of the most mysterious diseases in the world.
Chung was also the source of inspiration for another scene, when Karen Lennard is pregnant with her third child, after an infection caused some trauma and even brought the pregnancy to a halt.
Lennard was given a second chance, but as a mother who came back from the brink, her hope is to help all mothers whose babies are born with encephalitis to have a second chance at life.