Kidney News You Won’t Believe

Ever since this first post on organ transplants just over a year ago followed by our subsequent New York Times column on the subject, we have received many, many tips about interesting, strange, provocative, and even useful incentives to encourage more organ donation. But nothing comes close to the latest one, which was sent in by at least 8 or 10 readers (thanks to all of you): a Dutch reality TV program, The Big Donor Show, in which three contestants compete to receive a kidney from a terminally ill donor.

As you can imagine, there is pushback on all fronts, including the argument that the show’s setup doesn’t remotely reflect the reality of organ donation and transplantation. But to my mind, that is missing the point entirely. No matter how craven the producers’ motives may be — I imagine it will glean high ratings if the authorities don’t manage to pull it off the air — and no matter how poorly the show reflects reality, the very fact that this issue has reached the point of warranting a reality show suggests that the status quo is badly outmoded, and change needs to be made.

Sally Satel, who received a kidney from Virginia Postrel, writes here in grudging favor of the show.


egretman

They should hold the show in the Roman Forum. Thumbs up/thumbs down choses the winner. It would be awesome.

mentemalleo

As usual the foam-at-the-mouth media have latched on to a story which looked at from a distance looks horrible. Ohmigod, Weedsmoking, prostitution-loving, euthanasia and abortion promoting Deviant Dutchies at it again. I live in Holland, and I think a bit of nuance is called for.
Disclaimer: I hat a gut-level dislike for the idea, I'm not going to watch the show, and I abhor reality shows in general (though I sometimes watch 'em for fun).
1) The program is in memory of the tv station's founder, Bart de Graaff, who died waiting for a kidney
2) The program directors (in an interview yesterday) claim that they're a bit uncomfortable too, this is not going to be a regular thing, it's to highlight a problem. I think the problem's highlit; score A+ for highlighting.
3) Our parliament is in a self-induced tizzy: should they outlaw, free speech questions, score big politicing points pretending to be outraged, yadeyadeyade. A politician's wet dream.
4) The participants all have 0 chance of surviving off the show, and a 33% chance of surviving by participating on the show. I see no shame in participating, organising, or watching. Shame on every so-and-so who hasn't filled out their donor card. Maybe watching the horror of 2 people lose their lives Live! On TV!, their families' grief, all for the want of a kidney you don't need anymore, will finally hit home to the couch potatoes, who have never suffered such the anguish and horror of losing someone before their time. And knowing that thousands of people who didn't fill out their donor cards could have helped.
I'm all for televising the sorry mess; sit up and take note Dutch slackers: we need kidneys, as well as any other parts you can spare. Don't blame the messenger.

Read more...

egretman

All the more reason to immediately book the Roman Forum. If you are going to make a point, make it big.

frankenduf

truth stranger than fiction- if the Simpsons ran a spoof like this it may have been seen as callous

mentemalleo

Well, yes.
I figure if hordes of people want to see someone eat a bug for money, or some poor woman bawling her eyes out because of entirely predictable tryst of her lover with a nubile young woman during a "relationship endurance test",you'll want the Colleseum. The point I'm trying to make is that for once the reality show MATTERS. There won't be a battle of the losers next season. Somewhere, maybe this will penetrate the viewers' brain that the bug-wallower will be 10K richer & no worse for wear, the ex-girlfriend will realize all men are horny & know better next time, but the losers in this contest will be dead. And as much fun as everyone thinks this will be to watch, I think it will be gut-wrenching to anyone with any morality left. I would wager money that the Dutch (notoriously big-hearted when donating money to any and every worthy cause) will be persuaded to sign up. My prediction: at least 1% will become new organ-donors after the show. The show will be worth the effort. Certainly better than anything our self-serving idiots in Parliament can come up with, and a lot cheaper to the tax-payer. And I'm reasonably convinced the two "losers" will find a donor. It's not that we Dutch don't care, we've become a bit jaded and lazy in the new millenium.

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prosa

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: the only effective, long-term solution to the shortage of organs for transplant is more research into figuring out how to stop so many organs from failing in the first place. Anything else is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

egretman

And as much fun as everyone thinks this will be to watch, I think it will be gut-wrenching to anyone with any morality left.

Even more reason to hire Burnett.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: the only effective, long-term solution to the shortage of organs for transplant is more research into figuring out how to stop so many organs from failing in the first place.

Cure diabetes.

Simonhere

I don't understand why it is part of the story-line that the donor is dying of a brain tumor. It creates the incorrect impression that living with one kidney is a risky or dangerous proposition, and only someone who is going to die anyway should even consider it.

Statistically, living donors like me with only one remaining kidney are no more likely to experience kidney failure than people with both kidneys in tact. When kidney failure strikes, it nearly always hits both kidneys at the same time.

As an aside, I'm not sure you really want a kidney from someone who is dying of cancer. Cancer cells tend to spread, and I don't know what kind of assurance the recipient is getting that, on the day of surgery, the kidney is cancer free.

Another troubling aspect is the utter lack of respect this program is showing for the dignity of the three contestants. I've had the pleasure of knowing several Dutch people -- best people on the planet -- and I can't imagine any of them enjoying watching three very sick people beg for their lives on television.
Furthermore, imagine being one of the two contestants who isn't chosen as the winner. How do you think its going to feel for them to be told that their lives aren't worth saving on national television?

Choosing to give my kidney to Brenda actually wasn't a difficult decision for me, but I have to say that I felt very uneasy looking at the online profiles of needy people whom I didn't choose. The only saving grace was knowing that these people would have no idea that I saw and considered their profiles and did not select them because I preferred Brenda. That level of compassion for the "unchosen" victims of kidney disease is missing here.

Should the show be permitted to air? Yes. I believe that the donor has the right to give her kidney to whomever she chooses using whatever criteria she chooses. That said, I think this woman is an absolute ghoul for electing to pick her recipient in this manner.

I will be appearing on the Radio Netherlands Worldwide program “The State We're In” with my recipient to discuss this issue along with a general discussion of organ donation altruism. Readers in the European Union should check their local listings.

Finally, the game show thing has a certain perverse appeal to me. How many centipedes do you think I could have gotten my recipient to eat on television for her to win my kidney?

www.kidneychronicles.blogspot.com

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hyrumberg

I think it is sad that providing organs is controlled by the government monopoly. If selling your organs was legal there might be less deaths and it would be a lot easier for the relatives of the dead to pay for the funerals.

Wisemax

I gave a kidney, some years ago (I'm 59 and basically healthy, except for too much fat, no gall bladder and colestherol in the liver, a few things more not worth mention - in summary, nothing to worry (much) abot... for now.

So I ask: what's so special about doning certain organs?...

I certainly would not donate my heart or brain to be taken from me when I'm alive, but... wouln't any of us desire to ease the pain and suffering of a friend or relative at the cost of some risk and a certain, but bearable disconfort?...

I'm almost sure that most of us would dare (or then I'm just plain naive...).

Paul Hoffman

The conclusion that "the very fact that this issue has reached the point of warranting a reality show suggests that the status quo is badly outmoded, and change needs to be made" is demonstrably flawed. If you look at the premise of the majority of "reality shows", you will see that their premises are not based on an outmoded status quo. Surviving in groups is not outmoded, being a second- or third-tier celebrity is not outmoded, and so on.

The current mechanims for organ donation are not "badly outmoded", they are simply insufficient for the demand. One likely reason is that as organ donation becomes less risky, the number of potential recipients goes up greatly (instead of them simply dying or giving up hope). Another likely reason is that doctors may now assign more people to the potential recipient category than they would have earlier because the doctors feel more hopeful with such an assignment than they did earlier.

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Anonymous

Nobody says what simon really does

egretman

They should hold the show in the Roman Forum. Thumbs up/thumbs down choses the winner. It would be awesome.

mentemalleo

As usual the foam-at-the-mouth media have latched on to a story which looked at from a distance looks horrible. Ohmigod, Weedsmoking, prostitution-loving, euthanasia and abortion promoting Deviant Dutchies at it again. I live in Holland, and I think a bit of nuance is called for.
Disclaimer: I hat a gut-level dislike for the idea, I'm not going to watch the show, and I abhor reality shows in general (though I sometimes watch 'em for fun).
1) The program is in memory of the tv station's founder, Bart de Graaff, who died waiting for a kidney
2) The program directors (in an interview yesterday) claim that they're a bit uncomfortable too, this is not going to be a regular thing, it's to highlight a problem. I think the problem's highlit; score A+ for highlighting.
3) Our parliament is in a self-induced tizzy: should they outlaw, free speech questions, score big politicing points pretending to be outraged, yadeyadeyade. A politician's wet dream.
4) The participants all have 0 chance of surviving off the show, and a 33% chance of surviving by participating on the show. I see no shame in participating, organising, or watching. Shame on every so-and-so who hasn't filled out their donor card. Maybe watching the horror of 2 people lose their lives Live! On TV!, their families' grief, all for the want of a kidney you don't need anymore, will finally hit home to the couch potatoes, who have never suffered such the anguish and horror of losing someone before their time. And knowing that thousands of people who didn't fill out their donor cards could have helped.
I'm all for televising the sorry mess; sit up and take note Dutch slackers: we need kidneys, as well as any other parts you can spare. Don't blame the messenger.

Read more...

egretman

All the more reason to immediately book the Roman Forum. If you are going to make a point, make it big.

frankenduf

truth stranger than fiction- if the Simpsons ran a spoof like this it may have been seen as callous

mentemalleo

Well, yes.
I figure if hordes of people want to see someone eat a bug for money, or some poor woman bawling her eyes out because of entirely predictable tryst of her lover with a nubile young woman during a "relationship endurance test",you'll want the Colleseum. The point I'm trying to make is that for once the reality show MATTERS. There won't be a battle of the losers next season. Somewhere, maybe this will penetrate the viewers' brain that the bug-wallower will be 10K richer & no worse for wear, the ex-girlfriend will realize all men are horny & know better next time, but the losers in this contest will be dead. And as much fun as everyone thinks this will be to watch, I think it will be gut-wrenching to anyone with any morality left. I would wager money that the Dutch (notoriously big-hearted when donating money to any and every worthy cause) will be persuaded to sign up. My prediction: at least 1% will become new organ-donors after the show. The show will be worth the effort. Certainly better than anything our self-serving idiots in Parliament can come up with, and a lot cheaper to the tax-payer. And I'm reasonably convinced the two "losers" will find a donor. It's not that we Dutch don't care, we've become a bit jaded and lazy in the new millenium.

Read more...

prosa

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: the only effective, long-term solution to the shortage of organs for transplant is more research into figuring out how to stop so many organs from failing in the first place. Anything else is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

egretman

And as much fun as everyone thinks this will be to watch, I think it will be gut-wrenching to anyone with any morality left.

Even more reason to hire Burnett.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: the only effective, long-term solution to the shortage of organs for transplant is more research into figuring out how to stop so many organs from failing in the first place.

Cure diabetes.

Simonhere

I don't understand why it is part of the story-line that the donor is dying of a brain tumor. It creates the incorrect impression that living with one kidney is a risky or dangerous proposition, and only someone who is going to die anyway should even consider it.

Statistically, living donors like me with only one remaining kidney are no more likely to experience kidney failure than people with both kidneys in tact. When kidney failure strikes, it nearly always hits both kidneys at the same time.

As an aside, I'm not sure you really want a kidney from someone who is dying of cancer. Cancer cells tend to spread, and I don't know what kind of assurance the recipient is getting that, on the day of surgery, the kidney is cancer free.

Another troubling aspect is the utter lack of respect this program is showing for the dignity of the three contestants. I've had the pleasure of knowing several Dutch people -- best people on the planet -- and I can't imagine any of them enjoying watching three very sick people beg for their lives on television.
Furthermore, imagine being one of the two contestants who isn't chosen as the winner. How do you think its going to feel for them to be told that their lives aren't worth saving on national television?

Choosing to give my kidney to Brenda actually wasn't a difficult decision for me, but I have to say that I felt very uneasy looking at the online profiles of needy people whom I didn't choose. The only saving grace was knowing that these people would have no idea that I saw and considered their profiles and did not select them because I preferred Brenda. That level of compassion for the "unchosen" victims of kidney disease is missing here.

Should the show be permitted to air? Yes. I believe that the donor has the right to give her kidney to whomever she chooses using whatever criteria she chooses. That said, I think this woman is an absolute ghoul for electing to pick her recipient in this manner.

I will be appearing on the Radio Netherlands Worldwide program "The State We're In" with my recipient to discuss this issue along with a general discussion of organ donation altruism. Readers in the European Union should check their local listings.

Finally, the game show thing has a certain perverse appeal to me. How many centipedes do you think I could have gotten my recipient to eat on television for her to win my kidney?

www.kidneychronicles.blogspot.com

Read more...