Last night in Holby City an organ donation and transplant storyline was central to the programme.
The scriptwriters sought NHS Blood and Transplants advice on the episode, which saw the parents of a teenage boy grapple with making a decision whether or not to donate their son’s organs. They did not agree on how they wanted to proceed but eventually reached an emotional consensus to go ahead. Their dilemma is juxtaposed with a storyline of a man who needs a heart and lung transplant.
Here are my thoughts on the programme.
Although it may seem far fetched to others that the donor and the potential recipient were in the same hospital, I know from personal experience (my situation) that this can happen. My donor passed away in the same hospital that I received my transplant in. I only found this out a couple of years after my transplant.
The show did not have a specialist nurse in organ donation as part of its cast, instead one of the regular characters makes the family approach. In spite of this, the episode did help to get across the importance of family consent/authorisation for donation and the potential repercussions of families saying no to donation. The importance of how crucial it is to share your wishes of organ donation with your next of kin was also brought to light. The turmoil of the next of kin of the donor was well potrayed and very believable/understandable. As was the reaction of the recipient’s wife, when she was told that her husband would not be receiving a transplant.
The initial approach of the family happened in the patient’s room, whereas it would usually be in a relatives room. It was all very rushed and the process of organ retrieval was not discussed. They focussed on the heart and lungs (as this was what the recipient needed) and didn’t cover what other organs could be transplanted or whether these would be transplanted at all.
Brain stem death was discussed briefly but it was made clear that the patient had passed away and the machine (ventilator) was doing the work of breathing for the young boy. However the process of discovering who a match would be was not covered, it made it look like the recipient had made it to the top of the list (rather than other factors, blood group, tissue typing being taken into consideration.)
The programme also covered the fact that the recipient can refuse a transplant if one becomes available and they don’t wish to receive it. It is personal choice and their right to also withdraw consent – Although the recipient did decide to go ahead in the end.
Obviously the programme is only an hour long and it’s a lot to fit in, in such a short space of time and it wasn’t true to timescale. Although there were some inaccuracies and dramatisation, I hope the storyline got people thinking about organ donation and the importance of it. I hope it makes people discuss their wishes with their next of kin.
If you want to find out more about Organ Donation or have any questions you want answering: Click Here.
If you want to sign up to the Organ Donor Register: Click Here.