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At forty years old, Devin Dearth is a successful businessman, a loving husband, father of three, a devout Christian and champion bodybuilder. He and his family reside in the small community of Central City, Kentucky where they live the ideal American Dream. That is, until Devin suffers a devastating stroke. Caused by a bleed in the brain stem, the stroke leaves him paralyzed on his right side and unable to walk, with difficulty speaking, double vision and inability to care for himself or his family. He has met his ultimate adversary: The limits of his own mortality. We follow Devin on this unconventional journey, during which his courage, faith, patience and desire to overcome are tested on a daily basis. The trials he and his family endure along the way remind us that the human spirit can transcend any boundaries while exploring a universal community of healing and transformation.
Riveting! An inspirational story - brilliantly told. --Bob Weinstein
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That reality hit hard, when filmmaker Doug Dearth learned that his healthy brother in his 40's had just suffered a stem bleed in his head and may not live through the startling event. Camera in hand to perhaps film the last moments of his brother's life, Doug flew from his home in California to his brother's home in Kentucky. He had no idea what adventure he was setting off for and how these events would change his view of the world.
Amazingly his brother Devin Dearth survived and after a few weeks in intensive care he was transferred to a state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital to start his therapy. The stem bleed left Devin in bad shape. He was paralyzed on the right side of his body, had vision and speech problems and was helpless to do anything for himself. Devin worked hard in recovery, a former award-winning body builder; he was use to working hard. And over the course of his treatment he improved. But there was a catch. Devin was about to run out of his allotted approved treatment days from his insurance company.
According to Devin's own personal doctor, he described the U.S. insurance system to a MacDonald's drive-up window. Insurance plans are a cookie cutter system designed for the many and not the individual. Devin had an episode that was more common in older people. He needed more time in therapy in order to go back home and support his wife and three children, but his family just could not afford the $150,000.00 per month to remain in the rehabilitation hospital. As soon as Devin's days were up, he was discharged and expected to go home. When Devin returned home, his family found it difficult to provide him the round-the-clock care needed and his condition seemed to regress.
Doug Dearth and the rest of the Dearth clan found it difficult to see their loved one waste away. And as Doug searched websites on the subject of strokes he came across a great rehabilitation clinic that provided eastern and western treatments in one setting and boasted a good record of improvement with patients like Devin. This clinic was also much less expensive, charging only $20,000.00 for a six week treatment. The only problem: this clinic was in China.
Doug presented this option to his conservative family and after much discussion it was decided to send Devin to China. His community held a fund raiser to raise the monies necessary for Devin's trip and care. And Doug was given permission to continue the filming of his brother in China.
The six weeks that followed appeared magical. Just on his first day of treatment, huge improvements were evident. The Chinese integration of eastern and western therapies was miraculous. Watching the filming of Devin's progress is heart-wrenching and inspiring. The Chinese at his clinic were like another family to Devin. Even the cleaning ladies gave Devin the much needed moral support to continue his hard work. If not film as it was, it is doubtful that anyone would believe such therapies exist and how successful they are. Devin left China in a much improved physical shape. He was sitting upright, didn't drool any longer and with the help of his brother he walked out the hospital in China.
This film chronicling the courageous battle Devin Dearth speaks to all viewers that have had one or more family members face a medical crisis only to find that the insurance battles and money issues come to overwhelm even the closest of families. This film is not the standard documentary that beats down the entire U.S. health system. It has a tone that is hopeful and focuses on the love of family and community with the goal to heal a fallen member.
9000 Needles has won numerous awards, including just recently The Best Documentary Award at the 16th Annual Temecula Valley International Film & Music Festival just this September.
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-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with focus on the Silent Film Era, see her work at [...]
You would think that, given the subject matter, this film would lapse into pro-alternative-medicine proselytizing or anti-U.S.-healthcare ranting, but it doesn't. Filmmaker Dearth chooses instead to focus on Devin, his incredible inner strength and perseverance, and the outpouring of love and support he received and continues to receive from his family and community in the wake of his stroke. This is, in the end, a simple and unflinching look at a man struggling to overcome tremendous odds and the story of how that struggle affects the people who love him. Very highly recommended.
Thanks to the Dearth family for making this movie. To Kelly (Devins wife) you are my hero wife, I hope that I grow up to be as good a wife as you :).