An 81 year old inventor on the season final of AUSTRALIAN STORY


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In this 2020 season finale, Australian Story meets an 81-year-old inventor who has helped saved the lives of hundreds of premature babies and checks in with the hilarious Dustyesky ‘fake Russian’ choir for a special Christmas performance.

Former NASA engineer Professor John Grant-Thomson helped put a man on the moon back in the late 1960s.

Now 81, he’s the inventor of a space-age capsule designed to sustain the most fragile souls on the planet – sick and premature babies.  

“I absolutely knew nothing about premature babies and the problems that they possibly could face, but what is engineering for if it’s not helping people?”

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– Professor Grant-Thomson says.

Professor Grant-Thomson invented the Neocot more than 20 years ago so that pre-term babies born in the bush could be transported safely in an “intensive care ward on wheels” to neonatal care in the city.   

“That first hour or two is extremely critical. It needs a specialized team to get to the baby with an intensive care bed condensed into a cot,” 

– says neonatologist Dr Pieter Koorts.

The Neocot is used to retrieve 4,000 babies in Australia each year and is used across Scandinavia.

And a serendipitous meeting a few years ago connected Professor Grant-Thomson with one of the first babies ever to use the Neocot, leading to a surprising and treasured friendship. 

“He’s just a lovely, kind, humble individual. I see him as someone who I would like to try and be like in my life,”

– says Lachlan Erhart who is now 20 years old.

Australian Story also checks in with the hilarious ‘genuine fake Russian’ Dustyesky choir from Mullumbimby who took the world by storm when featured on the program in May.

The choir of 28 “very hairy” middle-aged men can’t speak Russian but went viral during the pandemic with their stirring renditions of traditional songs from the Motherland.

Since appearing on Australian Story, there have been three movie offers, an invitation to the Russian Embassy in Canberra to be presented with a signed portrait of President Putin… and finally, their first live performance since COVID-19 struck.

Producers: Emily Bissland, Vanessa Gorman and Caitlin Shea

Australian Story – Monday 7th December 8pm on ABC and iview

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