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Audiences Nationwide Will 'Awake' to a Frightening Reality on November 30th
Date:10/23/2007

Feature Film Depicts a Patient Experiencing Anesthetic Awareness

1 out of 700 patients a year experience anesthetic awareness

NEW YORK, Oct. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- On November 30th, "Awake" will debut in theaters nationwide exposing the horrifying, true-life surgical event known as "anesthetic awareness." In "Awake" a patient's failed anesthesia leaves him fully conscious but physically paralyzed during surgery. The patient's new wife is forced to struggle with her own demons as a terrifying drama unfolds around the couple. Jessica Alba, Hayden Christensen, Terrence Howard, Lena Olin and Fisher Stevens star in the psychological thriller which is written and directed by Joby Harold. "Awake" is being theatrically distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM).

According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, anesthetic awareness is "when surgical patients can recall their surroundings or an event - sometimes even pain - related to their surgery while they were under general anesthesia." (1)

According to the Anesthesia & Analgesia journal, anesthetic awareness can include full consciousness during surgery with pain and explicit recall of intraoperative events. (2)

"This film will do to surgery what 'Jaws' did to swimming in the ocean," said Deutsch/Open City Films co-founder and producer Joana Vicente.

Joby Harold stated, "We have created an original and scary experience unlike anything audiences have seen before. The prospect of being conscious during surgery elicits a visceral response in everyone, and I can't wait for audiences to join us on this unique, fun ride."

Carol Weihrer, President and Founder of the Anesthesia Awareness Campaign, Inc., stated, "I've been following the progress of 'Awake' since the project was announced, and as a victim of anesthesia awareness, I dedicated the last nine years to educating the public to help them understand the scope, sheer terror and trauma involved when awareness occurs. Recently, I attended the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) annual conference and they are finally beginning to publicly acknowledge this problem. The Anesthesia Awareness Campaign and the ASA are also working together on a database registry of victims, estimated to be at least 100 times a day in the United States. And while we are working together, there is no way to accurately describe to someone how it feels to be 'entombed in a corpse' as I was."

"Every year an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 of the 21 million patients who receive general anesthesia wake up during surgery because they are under- anesthetized, usually by mistake or because doctors fear too high a dose of anesthesia could be dangerous. Half of them, can hear or feel what is going on but are unable to communicate what is happening to them because they have been temporarily paralyzed. Nearly 30 percent feel pain, studies have shown. As a result of the experience, about 50 percent of awareness victims develop serious psychological problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), experts say." (3)

"Awake" may not be suitable for those about to undergo anesthesia for surgery.

Joby Harold makes his directorial debut from a script he wrote. The films ensemble cast includes Jessica Alba, Hayden Christensen, Terrence Howard, Lena Olin, Sam Robards, Christopher McDonald, Fisher Stevens, and Arliss Howard.

Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Kelly Carmichael and Tim Williams are the film's executive producers. Joana Vicente and Jason Kliot of Deutsch/Open City Films served as producers along with John Penotti and Fisher Stevens of GreeneStreet Films. Amy Kaufman and Tory Tunnell are co-producers. Russell Carpenter is the director of photography, Craig McKay is the editor, Dina Goldman is the production designer, Cynthia Flynt is the costume designer and Avy Kaufman is the casting director.

(1) American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

http://www.asahq.org/patientEducation/Awarenessbrochure.pdf

(2) Anesthesia & Analgesia journal.

http://www.anesthesia-analgesia.org/cgi/content/full/95/1/72

(3) Boodman, Sandra G. "Wake-Up Call; Awareness During Surgery, Once Dismissed as Imaginary, Is Real -- and Potentially Devastating. While It Is Rare, Doctors and Hospitals Are Starting to Take It Seriously." The Washington Post, November 23, 2004. http://www.washingtonpost.com


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