Viewers have praised an ‘incredible’ mother who died of eye cancer and donated her body to medical science after being dissected on TV.
My Dead Body, which aired on Channel 4 at 10pm last night, televised the dissection process for the first time in the UK as medical students from Brighton and Sussex Medical School examined the death of the young mother Toni Crews from Deal, Kent, who died in 2020.
As the dissection, led by Professor Claire Smith, showed students examining the progression of cancer in Toni’s body and told the story of her life and illness, viewers of the groundbreaking documentary took to Twitter to praise the “impressive” mother. of two.
My Dead Body, shown on Channel 4 last night, televised the dissection of Toni Crews, from Deal, Kent, who died aged 30 in 2020 after a battle with rare eye cancer. Toni (pictured speaking in 2017) decided to donate her body to medical science after discovering her cancer had spread and waived her anonymity
Describing the episode as “really touching”, one viewer claimed she couldn’t stop crying from the start. She wrote: “As a parent my biggest fear is leaving my son when he is still so young, [Toni] must have been so scared. Giving your body to science is an amazing and selfless thing to do and a gift for anyone who is suffering.
Another viewer said, “I don’t know how people can’t watch this.” We all have a body, we all know someone who has/has had cancer, we all know we are going to die. Why not use this gift which [Toni] has given us a better understanding of cancer and its impact on the body.
During the documentary, which was a UK first, Toni’s body was dissected in front of medical students who examined her brain, eye tissue and abdomen for tumours.
Viewers of the documentary were incredibly moved by Toni’s story, which was told alongside the dissection footage
Early in the documentary, viewers heard about Toni’s parents, Jason and Jo, who are now raising their daughter’s two children.
Although they admitted to having struggled with the idea of their daughter’s dissection being televised, Jason said, “It would be a mistake not to follow her wishes.”
As viewers watched the parents talk about Toni, they praised their bravery.
One person wrote: “The bravery of Toni Crews and her family is incredible. Such a selfless act will have such a positive and profound impact on health education and future patient care.
After Toni was first diagnosed with cancer in her tear gland above her eye in 2016, the single mum had to have her eye removed. Lacrimal tumors are rare – around 85 are diagnosed in the UK each year – but although they can be benign, around 55% are malignant like Toni’s and require urgent treatment.
During the documentary, viewers learned how Toni designed her own line of gem-encrusted eye patches because she couldn’t find one that she liked.
Soon after, she started selling the eye patches and shipping them around the world.
A clip was shared of Toni explaining her business and why she decided to start making eye patches in January 2017.
The documentary showed footage of Toni speaking in 2017, shortly after her diagnosis and eye removal, when she explained how she started customizing her own glamorous eye patches.
Toni (pictured after her eyes were removed) revealed she had always wanted to work in medical science and wanted other people to learn about her illness
Speaking to the camera, she said: ‘I was diagnosed with lacrimal gland cancer last year and opted to have my eye removed to have the best chance of survival.
“We found it quite difficult to find attractive eyeliners to wear to help boost my confidence.”
Jo also revealed that Toni researched donating her body to medical science shortly after learning her cancer had spread.
At the start of the film, Toni, whose voice was recreated using AI technology as excerpts from her diary and social media accounts were read, said: “I always wanted to be a doctor or a nurse”.
“I was fascinated by the body and science, and I loved everything about biology. I would like people to learn about my illness.
Viewers took to Twitter to share how they were touched by Toni’s story and how it was handled by Channel 4, with some saying it was the “most amazing” thing they had ever watched.
“Life has a strange way of working things out.”
At the end of the episode, Professor Smith went to visit Toni’s parents in Deal, where she informed them of the discoveries she and her students had made while examining Toni’s body.
She revealed the team had found around 100 tumors in Toni’s abdomen as her cancer had spread, and insisted there was probably nothing more that could have been done to any stage of Toni’s disease that would have changed the course of events.
Professor Smith also told Jo and Jason which parts of Toni’s body the medical school had decided to keep for future teaching, including her brain, her heart (which was tumor free) and part of her leg.
At the end of the episode, viewers were impressed with the groundbreaking documentary and praised Toni’s selfless act.
One person wrote: “My Dead Body is possibly the most amazing program I have ever watched”. To the incredible young woman whose strength, dignity and love of life even after her death, thank you.
Another quoted some of Toni’s last words in the episode and said she was “selfless and remarkable”.
Read more stories here