A documentary five years in the making will air Saturday night, and Stacy Bingham will be watching it for the first time like everyone else.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking — what have I said in the last nine interviews?” she said.
The show is called “Heartbreak: Saving the Binghams.” It follows the family of Jason and Stacy Bingham of Haines. Three of their five children — Sierra, Lindsey and Gage — have had heart transplants. Sierra, who’s 18 and the couple’s oldest child, has had two transplants.
The show airs on MSNBC at 6 p.m. PST Saturday.
The Binghams’ story starts 12 years ago when Sierra, then 6, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes the heart to grow so large that it can no longer support the body’s functions.
Sierra had a heart transplant in August 2006 at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California. Her second transplant was in 2015.
Lindsey, who turns 14 in December, got a new heart on Feb. 14, 2013, after 240 days on the transplant list.
Gage, the youngest Bingham, who is now 9, had a heart transplant on April 5, 2017. He was on the list for 512 days.
(The two other Bingham children, Megan, 16, and Hunter, 11, have not shown signs of the heart condition.)
TV producer Sandy Cummings originally created a documentary for Dateline in 2013. The new show, this time on MSNBC, will be two hours long and includes all four transplants, plus when Sierra met the family of her first donor.
“It allowed her a lot more time to tell the story the way she wanted to,” Stacy said.
“She has years of footage — it’ll be interesting to see.”
Cummings learned about the Binghams more than five years ago when she read a story about the family’s travails in The (Bend) Bulletin.
“I read it and thought ‘this is a story that would be great as a documentary,’ ” she said.
Cummings worked as an NBC news producer for more than 20 years, living in Los Angeles and New York City. She moved to Bend in 2006 and continued to work for Dateline until 2009 when she decided to freelance. She continued, however, to work with NBC.
Her first Dateline show about the Binghams started with Lindsey’s story in 2012 and continued through her transplant and return home.
Cummings continued to follow the family’s story, and produced a second documentary in 2016.
Neither Dateline program included much of Gage’s story. In fact, seeing the Dateline show in November 2016 with footage of his sisters on a ventilator after their transplants gave Gage nightmares about his own surgery.
“He started having dreams that he wouldn’t make it,” Stacy said.
During the past five years, the television crew filmed nearly every aspect of the Binghams’ journey. The one place they weren’t allowed was in the operating room — Stacy said only the hospital’s camera crew could film in there.
When the Binghams were first approached about filming their story, Stacy hesitated.
“I didn’t want my face plastered all over America,” she said with a laugh.
She said Jason finally convinced her that publicity could help spread awareness about the importance of organ donation — something that has saved the lives of their children four times.
Documentary Debuts Saturday
‘Heartbreak’ will air from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on MSNBC