The Dutch broadcaster behind a TV show in which a terminally ill woman will choose a candidate to receive her kidney says such bad-taste television was needed to publicise organ donation. ”We came up with this bad taste show to get media attention. That way many people will watch it and it will get the discussion going,” BNN director Laurens Drillich said in an interview with Dutch news agency ANP.
“The Big Donorshow” slated to go on air tomorrow has stirred controversy in the Netherlands and abroad. BNN, a public broadcasting foundation whose programmes are aimed at young people, is screening the show on the fifth anniversary of the death of its founder, Bart de Graaff. He died after spending seven years on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.
The attention the show has received worldwide has put the question of organ donation and a system to register donors on the international agenda, says BNN. ”Bart de Graaff would have loved it,” Drillich said.
The show was dreamt up by Endemol, the Dutch production company behind Big Brother and other reality television shows. It focuses on Lisa, a 37-year-old woman dying of a brain tumour. She must decide which of three patients selected by the producers, aged between 18 and 40, should receive her kidney. Viewers can offer their opinions by SMS text message.
Despite a vow from the Dutch transplant foundation that the possible kidney transplant stemming from the show will not be carried out in one of their nine special transplant centres, Drillich said it will go ahead. He would not reveal any details but stressed there would be no cameras for the actual transplant.
In the Netherlands, organ transplants are subject to strict laws which prohibit donors from choosing who will receive their organs after their death. However, an exemption is made in the case of kidney transplants, which can be carried out while the donor is still alive, allowing the donor to choose the beneficiary if there is some link between the two people.
Read the RNW story Who’ll win the life-saving kidney?