The Big Donor Show

Just when I think I've seen it all in reality television, Amsterdam, Netherlands has something totally new and off-the-wall. The prize is not $1,000,000 or glamorous trips around the world. The prize? A kidney. Yes, that's right, a kidney.

According to this Associated Press story, the show centers around a person that they're calling "Lisa." Lisa is a 37 year-old with an inoperable brain tumor and subsequent terminal illness. During the show, she will talk with and interact with three individuals who are candidates for kidney transplants.

Producers of the telecast (called the "Big Donor Show") want to highlight the shortage of kidney and other organ donors. One government official would like the Dutch parliament to block the broadcast. A network official had this to say...

"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.

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

If that's not bad enough, the article goes on to say that "Lisa's" wishes may not even be observed and carried out...
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 under the country's organ allotment system.

Wait. It gets even better and more outrageous than that. If you can believe this, government weezels are hesitant to block the broadcast in the following statement in the AP article.
Education Minister Ronald Plasterk, addressing parliament on behalf of the government because the health minister was ill, replied that there were serious questions about whether the transplant would actually go through as BNN has advertised it — but that there was no way to stop the program from airing.

"The information I have right now tells me that the program is unfitting and unethical, especially due to the competitive element, but it's up to program makers to make their choices," he said.

"The constitution forbids me from interfering in the content of programs: let there be no mistake about that, that would be censorship."

Censorship? Are they kidding? Is it censorship to have a game show to determine who gets the kidney of a terminally ill patient? Is it censorship to parade out a terminally ill patient, and have her interview three individuals with kidney failure, only to have her wishes potentially denied?

This is ridiculous and scary if you ask me. It will be interesting to see how this Big Donor Show all plays out. I wonder if network executives in this country would touch a concept like this one. What's sad is that they are probably watching this Dutch story closely to see if there is any public outrage over there. If not so much, then maybe someone in the US would try this stunt of a game show.