Ethical Considerations Living Donor Misinformation

and yet more fuckery from the land of tv

I’ll warn you, I’ve had a crap-ass day so this post will be less than civil.

I don’t spend a lot of time watching television but one of my dont-miss shows is “House”. Anyone who saw tonight’s episode probably already has some idea of the rant I’m about to deliver, but here’s a recap anyway:

Womes comes in with a variety of symptoms. In the process of diagnoses after diagnoses, her kidneys fail. Worse, she seems to be allergic to dialysis (don’t ask). Here’s where the writers of the show fucked up (and all television writers fuck it up so it’s not as if I’m singling anyone out):

1. They have NO idea what the hell is wrong with this woman. She is dying, and not just from the kidney failure; that’s merely a symptom of the larger problem. I have a difficult time believing any facility would approve a transplant under those circumstances.

2. One of the DOCTORS went to the patient’s sister’s house and ASKED her to be a living donor. Hello – WTF?

3. They showed the living donor on the surgical table and she was in the open nephrectomy position. All kidney removals in the past fifteen years have been laparoscopic.

4. And last but not least:

Upon the revelation of the patient’s kidney failure and allergic reaction, one doctor says to another (I’m paraphrasing) –

“We don’t know what’s killing her. She’ll never be approved for transplant list.”

And the other replies:

“That’s okay, we can find a living donor.”

Just in case the significance of this didn’t whap you upside your head, let me explain. A deceased donor kidney is too precious for this woman, but it’s okay to maim a healthy person and take one of theirs instead.

The worst part is that this actually is the attitude of much of the transplant industry. Physicians tell would-be recipients they’ll have a hella-long wait for a deceased donor organ, but don’t really explain why (they’re not a good candidate for a transplant, etc) but instead, say “Just go find a living donor”.

Then they take no responsibility for what happens after.


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