American Society of Transplantation Says 'Grey's Anatomy's' Portrayal of Transplantation Issues Harmful to the Public

Nov 02, 2005, 00:00 ET from American Society of Transplantation

    MT. LAUREL, N.J., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Society of
 Transplantation (AST) has gone public with its criticism of the writers and
 producers of "Grey's Anatomy" for failing to provide accurate information
 about organ transplantation.  On October 2, millions of viewers watched an
 episode titled "Enough is Enough," which ranked number five in the weekly
 Nielsen Ratings.  Unfortunately, viewers witnessed a storyline that grossly
 misrepresented the facts of organ recovery and transplantation.  AST, an
 international organization of transplant professionals, maintains that when
 writers and producers play fast and loose with the facts of organ donation,
 they irrevocably damage public perception.
     A Flawed Plot
     In "Enough is Enough," a purportedly brain-dead female is transferred to
 Seattle Grace Hospital, the dramatic center of "Grey's Anatomy."  An
 examination reveals that she is not brain-dead but had suffered a severe brain
 injury.  Ignoring the diagnosis, the "expert" organ recovery team prepares to
 remove her organs.  A clear-thinking neurosurgeon intervenes to save the
 patient.  "For the producers to suggest that a surgical team would not
 exercise due diligence before removing an organ is highly inaccurate,
 undermines public confidence in the medical profession, and raises
 unsubstantiated concerns about organ donation," stresses Richard N. Fine,
 M.D., AST president.
     Fact or Fiction?
     "Grey's Anatomy" is a television drama; it is not news programming.  But
 television shows, whether fictionalized or factually accurate, can influence
 viewers.  Years ago, when the television series "Marcus Welby, M.D." was
 popular, more than a quarter million viewers sought medical advice from Dr.
 Welby.  Many of these individuals were average people, avid television viewers
 who blurred the line between fact and fiction - the same type of person who
 may one day wrestle with an organ donation decision.  "When television writers
 address emotionally-charged subjects without the facts, they are acting
 recklessly," emphasized Fine.
     Nearly 90,000 people are awaiting organ transplants.  Organ donation
 depends on individuals who trust that organ allocation is fair and equitable
 and that physicians accurately determine when death has occurred before organs
 are recovered.  A U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality study found
 that organ donations increase when families have good information about the
 process.  Episodes like "Enough is Enough" undermine this fragile trust and
 can discourage organ donations.
     Transplantation in the Media
     "As a service to the public, AST strongly urges 'Grey's Anatomy's'
 producers to revisit the issue and provide accurate information about organ
 recovery and donation," states Fine.  "AST requests the media's support in
 ensuring that factual information about organ donation is never sacrificed in
 the interest of improving ratings," Fine added.
     About AST
     AST was founded in 1982 and includes 2,300 transplant professionals.
 Contact them at
              (215) 884-6499

SOURCE American Society of Transplantation