Dutch Show Has Kidney Donation Contest

Can you believe???

As reported by Associated Press today,

May 29, 8:23 AM (ET)


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - A Dutch reality show that claims to be trying to draw attention to a shortage of organ donors said Tuesday it would go ahead with a program in which a terminally ill woman will choose a contestant to receive one of her kidneys.

The program, “Big Donor Show,” has been attacked as unethical and tasteless. At least one member of the Dutch parliament plans to ask the government to block Friday’s broadcast.

“We know that this program is super controversial and some people will think it’s tasteless, but we think the reality is even more shocking and tasteless: waiting for an organ is just like playing the lottery,” Laurens Drillich, chairman of the BNN network, said in a statement.

She said waiting lists in the Netherlands are more than four years long and 200 patients die annually for lack of a donor.

The network identified the donor as “Lisa,” a 37-year-old woman with an inoperable brain tumor. During the show, she will hear interviews with the three candidates, their families and friends before choosing who will get her kidney.

The show is being produced by Endemol NV, the creator of the “Big Brother” series.

A spokeswoman for BNN said that there could be no guarantees the donation would actually be made, “but the intention is” Lisa’s donation would be carried out before she died.

That is because her wish to donate to a particular candidate “wouldn’t be valid anymore after her death” under Dutch donation rules, Marieke Saly said. If Lisa does donate one kidney while living, the other kidney may still be awarded to someone else on a national donation waiting list according under the country’s organ allotment system.

Viewers will be able to vote for the candidate they feel is most deserving via SMS text message, but “Lisa will determine who the happy one is,” BNN said in a statement.

Saly could not say how much it will cost to send an SMS, but most TV programs charge around $1.35.

Joop Atsma, a lawmaker of the ruling Christian Democrats, said he would try to persuade the health and communications ministers to halt the program. “I want to block this. This is truly not permissible,” he told NOS radio Saturday.

“How are the two rejected candidates supposed to feel after the broadcast?”

In Brussels, the European Union Commission, which is due to announce an organ donor policy on Wednesday, criticized the scheduled TV program.

“It seems in rather bad taste to do a real TV show on something like this, which is after all a very serious issue,” said EU Spokesman Philip Tod.

Paul Beerkens, director of the country’s Kidney Institute said he thought it was “fantastic” that BNN was drawing attention to the problem of donor shortages.

“But the way in which they’re doing this is definitely not our choice,” he was quoted saying by Dutch news agency ANP. “This is not a structural solution.”

Rich Berkowitz
NxStage 2/06
In-center 3/03

That is pretty seriously warped, Rich. I wonder if someone with cancer would even be able to donate, since cancer cells don’t necessarily stay put, and the kidneys filter the blood. Unethical and tasteless certainly seems to fit–but then there is that saying that there’s no bad publicity…

Dutch Auction next?

It obviously brings up all kinds of ethical questions, and if there is any upside, it is that. There’s lots of people who think they are losers because of CKF. Can you imagine how the two will feel who aren’t selected.

I actually knew one well-off financially pt. whi ended up buying his transplant. Oviously another subject to itself. And as you know, the entire criteria is now under review in terms of the cadaveric donation process.

Regarding donation from cancer pts, that really is curious. I was dx with RCC in 1998 and was told I couldn’t be an donor – that makes sense.

Rich Berkowitz
NxStage 2/06
In-center 2/03

This show is a descrace to the human anatomy . I hope it wont air here but I bet utube will have it. idiots

The show was a hoax.

“A television show in which a woman would donate a kidney to a contestants was revealed as a hoax Friday. Presenters said they were trying to pressure the government into reforming organ donation laws.”

Well, good! Interesting way of getting publicity. I’m sure it had the desired effect of making people think more about organ donation.

I’m glad to hear that, but I wouldn’t put it past FOX to do it here!

NxStage 2/06
In-center 3/03

Fox is probably looking for a likely donor right now! (Or maybe they’ll do a new twist–get out of prison early for donating a kidney…)

In all seriousness and considering the immense shortage of organs, I’ve often thought that there should be a serious discussion on how they are obtained. Obviously the thought of the obtaining a kidney through the debunked Dutch TV program would have been totally unethical, but what would be? Should we, as a society, deem the donation(?) of a kidney by a prisoner in,lieu for some kind of reduction in punishment an acceptable thing? Perhaps depending on the original crime? From a societal view, maybe looking at the cost of a pt on dialysis vs. the cost of incarceration, we would decide that’s a pretty good tradeoff. After all, aren’t all dialysis pts in a kind of prison themselves.

Should it be permissable for a person to sell a kidney? Not to an individual, but to UNOS? I am absolutely opposed to a individual who can afford to buy a kidney from being able to do so. I haven’t thought about it much, but do know something has to be done about the shortage.

NxStage 2/06
In-center 3/03

Here’s a brief (4 page) summary of an Institute of Medicine report from 2006 on increasing organ donation.

You can buy the full report or page through it here by clicking on the title of the chapter and then using the right arrow (paging through is not fast, but much cheaper):

So far as using prisoners as donors:

Ethics aside, how well is the health of U.S. prisoners maintained and how well protected are they from blood borne pathogens like Hepatitis B, C, and HIV/AIDS? I don’t think I would feel 100% safe accepting a kidney (or any organ) from a prisoner at this time.

I agree about the prisoner thing–so many possible diseases… Plus, the coertion element would be very high, and who pays if something goes wrong? Taxpayers.

IMHO, paying donors so we end up trafficking in organs isn’t the way to go either. In Wisconsin, where I live, there is a tax deduction for those who donate organs (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9C0CE3D91139F930A15752C0A9629C8B63). This seems like a good approach.

Another approach that has worked in other countries is to do presumed consent so that brain dead deceased donors are presumed to want to donate their organs unless they have clearly expressed a wish not to. This routes around the problem of family members who are too upset to think about saying yes–and then may regret it later when it’s too late…