October 27, 2021

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

A Nevada man with 10-stone testicles is the subject of 'Bodyshock', while 'Child Genius' follows a mathematically gifted 9-year-old ...


My testicles, together, weigh about the same as a satsuma. Though I don’t know for sure; with luggage scales it’s not easy. Wesley Warren Jr’s testicles weigh ten stone, now that’s about one thousand satsumas. Quite an affliction I’m sure you’ll agree. Still, Channel 4’s Bodyshock researchers will find them.

Warren, from a poor Las Vegas neighbourhood, suffers from massive scrotal oedema. I took this to mean that his bollocks just grew and grew. Or that his scrotum gradually filled with some disobedient, straw-coloured liquid. But no; it means that his ball sac never stops growing. It looks and (probably) feels like a monstrous walnut.

So what can be done about it? Well, because of the cruel US medical system, not much. All Warren can do is watch Dallas on TV as his scrotum swells by the day. He can’t do anything, even going to the toilet (which good fortune permits us to see) is a ball-breaking ordeal.

So Warren decides to start a Facebook page, asking people to donate money so he can afford the op. Interview requests come thick and fast, as do donations. But then the press turns on him. Donations dry up. And – the final ball-busting blow – his state welfare is revoked because he didn’t tell them about the donations.

Eventually, he meets a kind doctor – though I hesitate to say ‘kind’ because of his palpable glee at finding such a urogenital oddity – who offers to do the op for free. The doctor (with the ease of a man with satsuma-sized testicles) relishes telling Warren that both his penis and balls are buried in a foot of scrotum. The nurses are equally aroused: “That’s hardcore!”

Why, you might wonder, watch this programme? The only reason I can think of is not really a reason: because it’s weird. Maybe it’s worth watching because Warren is an amiable guy with a sense of humour. “Wouldn’t that be interesting on the front page of one of the British tabloids: ‘Man eats dinner on an enlarged testicle sac,’” he says.

The episode follows Warren through the few highs and many lows of a single year. He’s desperately seeking a way to fund the surgery. But throughout I kept thinking: “Surely Channel 4 could put him out of his misery and pay for the operation, rather than record his financial and emotional melt down.”

I won’t let on if Warren ends the film with or without his elephantine burden. Or even if he is dead or alive. These two unanswered questions will keep the viewing perineum tense. But, sincerely, don’t watch this too late. Twice I woke up in the night with a squeal, crushed beneath a sort of warm, squidgy demolition ball.

The sheer scale of Warren’s ailment leaves little space for Child Genius (episode 4). Leaping from excessively dropped balls, to a pair yet to drop, Child Genius 2013 seeks to find the cleverest kid in Britain. A little part of my brain kept piping up, “Who, apart from mummy and daddy, cares?” The kids do a bit. But it’s the parents who pale and exhale and writhe with intestinal butterflies throughout the show.

Parental pride is always grim. But the pride of these parents, so proud to have borne a freak who waffles on like an Hermione Granger-Prince Charles hybrid, makes this series a definite ‘not worth watching’. Midway in, I found myself hoping that the father of nine-year-old maths prodigy, Oscar, might suddenly become afflicted by massive scrotal oedema.


IMAGE: Channel 4