Belfast Telegraph

Bear Grylls survival show was life changing, says Belfast surgeon

Dr Mano
Dr Mano

Paediatric neurosurgeon Mano Shanmuganathan has said taking part in Bear Grylls' Treasure Island TV show was "life changing".

The six-part Channel 4 series, which airs on Sunday, will see 12 strangers stranded on a remote island with hidden riches up for grabs.

Mano is one of two paediatric neurosurgeons that serve Northern Ireland. He is based at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Kingsbridge Private Hospital and Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Alongside a three-stone weight loss, as well as a drop in his blood pressure and cholesterol, the surgeon said the experience had also shaped him mentally.

"When I went on this island aged 42 I was given an opportunity to make a decision about where I was headed in my life, physically and mentally. I had that 'control, alt, delete' moment where I reset and it's reset me for the better and off I go," he said.

"I am very aware that my job gives a certain uniqueness to me. The things that I see in my work are not the norm in terms of, not many see the back of a two-year-old's brainstem and have to make decisions about removing tumours and if you don't do it, the child may die.

"If you do do it, the child may be left with significant problems. How do you make these decisions? I feel like my time on the island has helped in clarity of thinking and decision making."

Mano will be joined on the island by 11 other contestants, including a 75-year-old great-grandmother and Prince Philip's cousin.

He admitted that he "wasn't overly bothered" about the cash prize, but a sum of his winnings have gone to Helping Hand, the charity to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

"Of course I would love to have money, of course that would be wonderful and great, but that wasn't my drive of being on the island," he said.

"My drive is I want to know that if a plane crashed and I was on an island, could I survive it? I came away thinking I could. The money was an additional bonus.

"The charity that I work with in Belfast, Helping Hand, is for the children's hospital. If I can promote or bring some money in, or as a result of the show bring about increased awareness of them, then that's my role to play.

"A proportion of the money I found has gone to the children's hospital charity, so that was my driver of trying to find the money and do something within it. What I was most amazed by, by doing that and being open about that, other people gave money towards the charity."

Treasure Island with Bear Grylls starts on Sunday, September 8 at 9pm on Channel 4.

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