Diagnosis Season 1, Episode 4, “Looking for a Village” is a painful watch as you witness young children going through a horrifying and extremely rare disease.
This recap of Netflix documentary series Diagnosis Season 1, Episode 4, “Looking for a Village”, which concerns the mutation of the KCNMA1 gene, contains spoilers. You can read the recap of the previous episode by clicking these words.
Episode 4 is an extremely complex chapter in Diagnosis, and it’s blatantly obvious there was not going to be any cure or resolution at the end of it. Six-year-old Kamiyah Morgan goes briefly limp a dozen, sometimes a hundred times a day. Her mother describes how she becomes instantly paralysed and then she switches back on seconds later — Kamiyah is awake, but she cannot seem to use her body.
The condition itself is strange, and hard to watch, but my heart raced at the start of “Looking for a Village” when Kamiyah is climbing up the ladders to use a slide — and as she is about to reach to the top, she has one of these seizures and goes limp. Kamiyah was seconds away from falling off the ladders backward.
What makes the entire ordeal worse for Kamiyah’s mother in Episode 4 is that the National Institute of Health (NIH) dropped the ball on the case. They carried out gene sequencing on Kamiyah and then two years later, they revealed some results. Conveniently, the NIH was suddenly on the ball when the New York Times was looking into this with Dr. Lisa Sanders.
Kamiyah’s condition is linked to a pathogenic variance in gene KCNMA1, and they are convinced that she is not the only person in the world with this extremely rare disease.
Dr. Lisa Sanders changes approach in Episode 4 — rather than crowdsource diagnoses, she looks for other children who may be suffering from the same gene mutation. Lisa is not expecting a cure. Incredibly, there’s an entire community of parents discussing this condition on Facebook.
I have to admit; I found it hard to watch “Looking for a Village” because watching children go through this is painful. As a parent myself, I do not think I’d be able to handle the stress.
There is a slight breakthrough in Episode 4 when a scientist, Andrea Meredith, reveals herself to be a leading researcher in the field regarding KCNMA1. Her lab is currently testing modifications of the gene on mice.
Kamiyah’s mother is keen to be amongst a community, and at the end of the chapter, she flies to Denmark to meet a family going through the same ordeal. It’s here we meet a child called Atle, who has the same seizures, but they last on average five minutes.
Diagnosis Season 1, Episode 4, “Looking for a Village” does offer a glimmer of hope for Kamiyah, with two research labs eager to find a cure, and provide it to her for free.
You can read the recap of the fifth episode by clicking these words.