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.

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  1. egretman says:

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

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  2. egretman says:

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

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  3. mentemalleo says:

    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.

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  4. mentemalleo says:

    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.

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  5. egretman says:

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

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  6. egretman says:

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

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  7. frankenduf says:

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

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  8. frankenduf says:

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

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