Jazz Jennings’ gender confirmation surgery and the preparation leading up to it has been heavily featured on this season of TLC’s I Am Jazz. On tonight’s episode, Jazz undergoes the bottom surgery and faces a complication during her recovery.
The description for tonight’s episode, called “It’s a Girl!” reads “Jazz’s doctors perform her groundbreaking bottom surgery while her family anxiously awaits news; with the OK from her doctors, Jazz is released to recover in a hotel; days later, Jazz suffers complications and is rushed back into the operating room.”
In a preview clip released in advance of the episode, Jazz is released from the hospital in a wheelchair. In an interview voiceover, she says “Getting out of the wheelchair, the leg thing snaps down and I feel a pop and with it, I felt this crazy pain… I just don’t know what’s going on.” During an interview with E! News, Jazz teased that the major complication will be shown in the episode and that “it’s gonna get dark.” The complications were not permanent, however, as ABC News reported she was on her way to a full recovery when they checked in 9 weeks after the surgery.
Ahead of the season 5 premiere, Jazz spoke out about the issues she faced leading up to and following the surgery that confirmed her as female. In an interview with Nightline‘s Juju Chang for ABC News, she revealed that after the surgery “There was just an unfortunate event and setback where things did come apart, and there was a complication. I had to come back in for another procedure, but it was just all part of the journey. The good thing though is that it was only cosmetic and external so it wasn’t too dramatic.”
She also faced complications before the surgery even happened. Jazz told Chang that her doctor asked her to lose 30 pounds. She then had a hard time finding surgeons who were willing to perform the gender confirmation surgery because she was “such a difficult case” because the hormone blockers and hormone therapy she started when she was eleven prevented growth, so there wasn’t “enough tissue to work with when it came to the surgery.”
Jennings’ journey ultimately led her to surgeon Dr. Marci Bowers. During the season 5 premiere, Dr. Bowers explained to Jazz and her parents that it would be “a breakthrough in terms of the surgery in being able to harvest this peritoneal lining.” She assured them that because it was a difficult case, they would make sure everything was set up perfectly in advance of the bottom surgery but said there were still risks of “hemorrhage inside” or “injury to the intestine.”
On Instagram, Jazz shared a photo of herself in her hospital bed holding a teddy bear. In the caption, she wrote “This episode is going to be the most dramatic yet as I end up experiencing a major complication. Going into the procedure, we knew it would be difficult since I had a lack of genital tissue due to my early suppression. Ultimately, I end up having to face one of the biggest challenges of my life.”