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'Holby City donor storyline was the last thing medics want'
A SPECIALIST nurse and town mayor have joined the row over BBC hospital drama Holby City, which was accused of scaring off organ donors with a ‘misleading’ storyline.
Last week's episode depicted a mother's struggle to decide whether her brain-dead daughter should donate her heart.
One scene showed the mother watching the operation in progress, despite withdrawing consent.
NHS Blood and Transplant said several potential donors took themselves off the register as a result, but the BBC argued the plot was meant to show what happened if rules were ignored.
Sue Duncalf, the North West manager for specialist nurses in organ donation, said: “While we are aware that Holby City is a fictional medical drama made to entertain, TV programmes are influential.
“The last thing we would want is a fictional drama to have a negative impact on public confidence in organ donation.”
In the show, transplant specialist Mo Effanga, played by Chizzy Akudolu, agreed the donor’s mother could meet the heart recipient face-to-face, hoping the encounter would encourage her to press ahead with the transplant.
But when her colleague warned she could lose her job, the meeting was called off.
Later, the mother saw her daughter being wheeled into theatre and tried to put a stop to the transplant. Effanga effectively ignored her wishes and said it was too late to halt the procedure.
Mrs Duncalf said: “If the family agrees to go ahead with donation, I support them every step of the way. At no point would I pressure a family into making a decision to donate, and the potential recipients of their loved one’s organs are not made known to them.
“With around 280 people in Lancashire alone in need of a transplant, I can only hope that viewers of Holby City were inspired to join the Organ Donor Register after the show.”
Blackburn with Darwen mayor Salim Mulla, whose wife had to wait six years for a life-saving kidney transplant, said: “Surgical procedures are very sensitive and TV programmes have a massive responsibility because they do have an impact.
“In my wife’s case things were done very professionally, there were no problems whatsoever.”
The BBC said: “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 wilfully ignored.”
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