The Man Who Had Minutes To Live

Pete Nash is 38 years old, he is a loving husband and father to 3 children. For the last two years Pete has been unable to work, drive or do any of the sports he once loved.

In 2004 he was diagnosed with the potentially fatal Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) of the brain, a condition which results in abnormally high blood pressure causing the veins to expand and malform into a tangled mass. AVM affects 1 in every 10,000 people a year, and can lead to epileptic seizures, strokes, haemorrhaging, and possible death.

Pete already suffers from regular seizures and knows that basically his brain is a timebomb, waiting to explode. However, despite the fact that a surgeon in Bristol is keen to provide the lifesaving operation Pete so desperately needs, his local Primary Care Trust have declined to fund it. Instead Pete and his family must raise the £70,000 necessary to get the treatment privately.

In this emotional and absorbing documentary, we investigate why the NHS is denying a life-saving operation to such a young and otherwise fit Father of Three, a man who has paid taxes all his life and is now asking the NHS for help.

We follow Pete & Julias's campaign as she fights for the right for Pete to live. With exclusive access, interviews and emotional video diary footage…

Documentary dates

The Man With Minutes To Live. Produced & Directed By Sarah Cronin-Stanley

“An insight into 'The Making of…”

It all started when I overheard a conversation in my local shop - what's this? A local man? A normal fit and healthy Father of three, young and they won't pay for an operation to save his life? This is mad?!!

I found Julia and Pete's website and I rang Julia Nash and had a chat on the phone about the story. I was struck immediately by her strength and determination and my gut feeling there and then was - this man's going to be fine…

It was without a doubt one of the most difficult shoots I have ever directed. This family were going through hell and we were asking them to tell us all about it - that's why I decided to start off with video diaries. Treat it like Big Brother - I told them - this is the one thing you can scream into, shout at, cry with and it wont answer you back. And so the filming began. It was an insight into one of the strongest families I know and over the course of the next year we (I hope!) became friends… but we were still dealing with a very sick man - so shoots had to be short and far between, I was heavily relying on the video diary footage to help the viewers see exactly what this poor family were going through.

Pete was a fighter - honestly I don't remember him complaining once, about anything. He is a credit to ill men everywhere and banishes all thoughts of man flu!!! Trips to the hospital were difficult - you need to catch every aspect - yet you don't want to be in the way in a busy hospital - you don't want to intrude on the family - but you have to film everything. The main operation was the longest day of my life. It was an agonising wait and still at the back of my mind I knew we could be filming something very tragic. This documentary could have had a very different ending at any moment.

Julia was an instant success on film. Her courage and strength were easy to capture - as for obvious reasons it was a campaign she felt very strongly about. Her knowledge of the illness itself and its effects on every aspect of their family life were addictive to watch. I had to keep reminding myself that this woman was just a normal Mum of three, she had no legal background, no medical background and certainly had never organised huge fund raising campaigns before. It was very frustrating to watch her letters and phone calls often get ignored. This was her husband, a father of three we were talking about here. Not a statistic.

I have no doubt in my mind that thing's for Pete could also have been very different without Julia and without their incredible family. There three boys are an absolute credit to them, they took everything in their stride. Including major exams throughout Pete's main operation. To watch the community pull together was also very touching. As Julia's mother said - the impact Pete's story had on the community as a whole, really restored our faith in human nature.

The Nash families story could easily fill three or four hours of gripping film. the fact that they are going to loose their home and have to move after everything they have been through is heartbreaking. But as Julia once said to me, Sarah, they only throw the bad stuff at the ones who are strong enough to deal with it……

It is a film I am incredibly proud of - but it would not have been possible without the full cooperation and understanding of such a fantastic family. The story speaks for itself and if it helps one person to fight for what they believe in - then I've done my job properly.

Sarah Cronin-Stanley Producer / Director / Stills Photographer

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