var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-41362908-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://' : 'http://') + 'stats.g.doubleclick.net/dc.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();
Home / Latest News / Holby City storyline whips up a storm over its ‘reckless’ portrayal of organ donation

Holby City storyline whips up a storm over its ‘reckless’ portrayal of organ donation

Furious NHS bosses fear Holby City could encourage people to opt out of presumed organ donation consent because of “reckless” portrayal of the topic.

Five million viewers tuned in for the popular drama’s latest episode about a teenage girl left brain dead after an accident and another needing a transplant.

Sue Falvey spent two hours advising the BBC on their prime-time show but claimed she was ignored.

The NHS Blood and Transplant service’s top nurse warned people deciding to opt out of donating in Wales would be the “worst outcome”.

And it would be “very difficult” to discover how many had. 

“You can never measure it because a lot of people would never tell their families whether they wanted to be a donor or not,” Ms Falvey said.

In a letter to the BBC, health chiefs accused the corporation of creating “a risk to public confidence” in the transplant system.

NHSBT associate medical director Prof James Neuberger and national clinical lead Dr Paul Murphy told the corporation last Tuesday’s programme was “inexcusable and reckless”.

They dubbed it a “gross distortion of the truth” and a “betrayal of the trust placed in them by the taxpayer”. 

Ms Falvey said the makers of the medical drama – set in the same hospital as Cardiff-made Casualty – knew of her worries before it was broadcast.

“I had significant concerns about it, which I did express, some of which they took on board because they made adjustments.

“But I presume in the interests of making TV they did not choose to take all of them on board.”

Scenes from Holby City: Mother of organ donor Poppy changes her mind about theoperation as she is wheeled away.
Scenes from Holby City: Mother of organ donor Poppy changes her mind about the
operation as she is wheeled away

The NHS identified 12 mistakes revolving around the donor’s mother being allowed to meet the recipient’s mother and the transplantation team, and the disclosure of the donor’s details to the recipient.

The show portrayed the surgery team ignoring the donor’s mother when she changed her mind about allowing the op to go ahead. In reality an operation can be halted up to the moment it has started.

Professor Neuberger said: “Under no circumstance would the donor family come into contact with the potential organ recipient or their family at this stage.

“There are separate clinical teams to care for potential donors and recipients, with the relatives of a potential donor being supported by a separate team whose sole concern is their welfare and that of their loved one.

“Finally, and most importantly, a decision to withdraw consent for donation would always be respected until such time as the recipient was in surgery.”

Dr Murphy insisted that to save lives through transplantation the public would need to believe in the system.

“The cornerstones of that system are altruism, trust and anonymity, and health professionals follow professional and clinical guidelines that meet these standards,” he said.

“The standards guiding this episode of Holby City were very different, and have done nothing to help the plight of the three people who die every day in the UK because of the shortage of organs.”

The BBC insisted it had the “utmost respect for real-life medical professionals”.

A spokeswoman said: “In no way was it our intention to suggest that our portrayal of a heart transplant was an accurate reflection of how such a scenario would typically be handled within the NHS.

“As with all storylines we worked closely with medical experts who advised on transplant protocols but the purpose of this storyline is to dramatise the consequences that could arise should the correct protocols be willfully ignored.

“This is an on-going story and in the weeks to come viewers will see the main character Mo face up to the fallout of her actions.”

The policy of presumed consent for organ donation will be introduced in Wales after AMs last month voted in favour of introducing controversial legislation to change the system.

The “opt out” system, which the Welsh Government believes will result in a 25% increase in the number of available organs in Wales, will come into place in 2015.

Check Also

UCAS

A level results in Cardiff: How every school performed

Thousands of pupils across Cardiff have celebrated their A level results today. Across the city …