The Little Couple, aka Dr. Jennifer Arnold and Ben Klein, aren’t your typical reality TV stars. For a start, they have a lot more going on in their lives than posing for the cameras. Klein is a medical supplies provider and businessman, while Arnold has an impressive list of accolades. She has held prestigious posts as the medical director of the Simulation Center at Texas Children’s Hospital and the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology at Baylor College of Medicine. However, the couple are now moving on to a brand new chapter of their lives.
The Little Couple, which airs on TLC, has been running for over eight years. It began in May 2009 and followed Klein and Arnold as they embarked on their separate careers and a long-distance relationship. It was a big success straight away, gaining high ratings and lots of fans. People loved getting a glimpse into the lives of two very accomplished people.
“We hope that this is a positive series that will show other little people you can become a doctor and you can become a business owner. You can find love. You can live happily ever after,” Arnold told the Houston Chronicle in 2009, as the series started. “It’s also important for parents to see who have kids with skeletal dysplasia.”
Klein has a rare kind of dwarfism called Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia, Strudwick type, and is just at 3 foot 2 inches tall. Her husband stands slightly taller at roughly four feet and has the condition Spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia, known as SED. The pair have undergone over 50 surgeries between them, designed to keep their knees, hips and ankles in working order.
A lot of the show follows Arnold at work in her highly specialized job. However, the reality TV doctor had to convince the Texas Children’s Hospital to allow cameras in the building. “When the show became a reality, we got in touch with the PR folks there, but there was a lot of hesitation. As a hospital, they have a lot to lose, and they wanted to make sure it would show the hospital in a good light,” she told Glamour in 2013. “And now, it has turned out to be this great relationship.”
Arnold may be small, obviously, but more importantly, she’s an incredibly talented doctor. She studied at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, completed a pediatric residency program at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and obtained a Masters in medical education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007. Plus, she’s picked up multiple awards for her medical skills and good bedside manner.
Arnold has her workstations customized to accommodate her height. For example, her desk is specially made, her lab coat is specially tailored, and she sometimes uses a scooter so she can travel throughout the hospital as quickly as her colleagues. In addition, all the hand sanitizer machines are installed where Arnold can reach them, and step-ladders are also on hand should she ever need them.
Indeed, Dr. Arnold is living proof that a disability doesn’t have to be an obstacle in pursuing a medical career. And even before The Little Couple aired, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran an article on her in 2001. “She’s really got this very lovely ability to connect with the kids and with parents. They trust her,” one of her colleagues was quoted. “If she were just a Little Person, it would be a novelty. The fact is, she’s a fabulous doctor.”
In March 2013 Arnold and Klein adopted a child from China, Will. And in October they adopted a little sister for him, Zoey, from India. Both children had dwarfism like their parents and were much-wanted additions to the family. Unfortunately, just as Arnold and Klein were starting an exciting new chapter in their lives, they were also dealt a crushing blow. Arnold had cancer.
And the reason behind the illness was doubly upsetting. When Arnold and Klein had been trying for a baby, a rare form of cancer called choriocarcinoma had developed from a non-viable pregnancy. “The one time I get pregnant, I get cancer,” Arnold told People sadly in December 2013. And the fact that she was a little person made the treatment of her cancer even more difficult.
It was definitely a bad situation. “We wanted to avoid surgery in her case because of her shortened airway and the difficulties she has had in the past with surgeries,” Arnold’s doctor, Dr. Concepcion R. Diaz-Arrastia, told People. “But we felt we had no choice. The disease was not responding to chemotherapy. We had to do this in order to save her life.”
“I called oncologists in Los Angeles, Baltimore, New York, Houston,” Dr. Diaz-Arrastia continued. “No one had experience with treating this type of cancer in a person with skeletal dysplasia. It was a very rare cancer, rare that it was found in a little person a very rare situation.” Luckily, however, Arnold had a lot of experts in her corner, and gradually her condition started to improve. What’s more, she allowed the TLC cameras to film her fight for the reality show, too.
And of course, she and her husband also had two young children to deal with while going through treatment. “I wanted to be really open with them about what was going on,” Arnold said on The Little Couple. “We didn’t hide anything, getting shots at home, my hair loss, going to the hospital, coming to visit me during my getting chemotherapy treatments.”
On February 4, 2014 – World Cancer Day – Arnold shared some good news with People. “I had my official last chemo treatment,” she told them. “And while I’m hesitant to say I’m cancer-free – maybe that’s common for people who have had cancer – I’m doing great. Everything is moving in the right direction. I am very excited.” And her fans, naturally, were overjoyed.
Arnold credited her husband and her children for helping her get through her illness. “Bill knows when I’m not doing well and he takes such good care of me,” she told People. “That was huge. That and enjoying watching my children play was a huge uplifting part of my treatment.” And she explained that she was now ready and eager to return to her work at the children’s hospital, too.
But just as Arnold got her real life back on track, her reality TV life suddenly hit a roadblock. The new season of The Little Couple had to be shelved due to a legal dispute between TLC’s parent company, Discovery, and The Little Couple’s production company LMNO. And eventually, Klein and Arnold had to hire lawyers themselves and claim for compensation.
Eventually, though, the legal problems were sorted out and the cameras started up for a ninth season of The Little Couple. But this time, things would be a little different. The entire family was moving to Florida because Arnold had got a new job! Yes, she was moving ahead to become medical director of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital’s Simulation Center.
And Arnold’s plans for her new position are particularly exciting. She hopes to drastically reduce the number of hospital errors which lead to patient death. She’ll do this by creating training programs for first responders and also military personnel, as well as teaching new parents how to look after their premature baby. And in addition to all that – already a big workload – she’ll be teaching part-time at Johns Hopkins University!
Arnold’s family are very supportive of her and happy to move to Florida. And although Arnold and Klein initially worried about moving their kids to a brand new place, they seem to be doing just fine. Indeed in July 2017, Arnold posted a picture on Instagram showing her children playing happily on a Florida beach. “I don’t want summer to end! This has been a summer of wonderful Florida memories!” she wrote.
Audiences will hopefully be able to watch Arnold flourish in her new position as The Little Couple continues to air. The new series documenting the job change and the move is set to air on September 19, 2017. It’s a very exciting time for Arnold, Klein and their entire family, and there’s no doubt they deserve the happiness they have at the moment.