Meet the Director and Producers
The Unknown Upside captures the resilient spirit of Sydney-based Libby and Joseph Lombardo and their young daughter Isabella, as she defeats the physical limitations of Cerebral Palsy and learns to walk.
Medical experts projected that Isabella would be confined to a wheelchair for life. “That’s not going to happen to my daughter,” Libby insisted. Professionals said Isabella’s health would deteriorate over time, as is typical for many people diagnosed with Spastic Cerebral Palsy. However, Libby and Joseph defied the experts, insisting they would find a way to give their daughter the best life possible.
When Isabella missed physical developmental milestones as an infant, her parents never suspected anything was wrong. Months of gruelling medical examinations and painful tests baffled doctors, who were unable to explain why Isabella was not able to sit up or even crawl. A physical therapist casually told them, “Your daughter has Cerebral Palsy.” Joseph and Libby were infuriated. “Who are you, to come into our lives and flippantly tell us something so lifechanging?” they recall telling the young therapist. Disbelief led to denial. Confusion and shame followed. Joseph says, “We tried to hide it from our family, colleagues and friends. But the day you’re unloading your daughter’s wheelchair in the shopping centre parking lot for the first time, you can’t hide it any more.”
A dramatic spinal surgical procedure sparked a glimmer of hope for the Lombardos. But Australian doctors were critial and strongly discouraged the procedure. Shortly after travelling to the USA and undergoing controversial Selective Dorsal Rhyzotomy (SDR) surgery, Isabella took her first timid steps on a long journey to be able to walk. The results have been staggering.
Joe and Libby’s relentless quest to help their daughter walk led them to Mexico, where Isabella received stem cell therapy. There were no guarantees about the potential outcome, but the Lombardos were prepared to push the boundaries of medical science in order to help their daughter. Despite initial setbacks, Isabella’s strength and ability have been dramatically transformed following the stem cell therapy.
The Lombardos have spent nearly half a million dollars so far on Isabella’s treatment, therapy and care. The results are undeniable. The gritty determination and personal sacrifice of this exceptional family, who are putting everything they are on the line, will grip audiences everywhere as they see Isabella’s dreams come true.
The Unknown Upside is a tear-jerking heart-stopper and promises to inspire audiences around the world. The Lombardo’s have a significant media presence in Australia and international social media following. They have appeared on ABC, Channel 9, Sunrise, 60 Minutes, Women’s Day magazine and more. Now their story comes to life on the big screen. All proceeds from the film go towards Isabella’s ongoing treatment and care.
The Unknown Upside Directed by Tim Skinner
Produced by The MEDIA Square in association with Joe and Libby Lombardo.
Executive Producers Joe + Libby Lombardo
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