NHS Blood and Transplant response to Holby City episode on 30 July 2013
NHS Blood and Transplant is extremely disappointed by Holby City's portrayal of organ donation in the episode broadcast on 30th July.
We have already been contacted by people asking to be taken off the Organ Donor Register as a direct result of having seen this programme. We were approached for advice on the script and it is disappointing to know that despite sharing our concerns about the depiction of certain situations, these scenes were still kept in for the purpose of creating a more controversial story.
The fictional depiction of organ donation was a wholly inaccurate portrayal of the organ donation and transplantation system in the UK. In reality the system is underpinned by professional and caring NHS staff who approach families at the right time to establish the wishes of the potential donor and implement them whenever they can.
Within each hospital, health care professionals will work to the best of their ability to save a person's life. The relatives of a potential donor are fully informed and supported by hospital staff and are given time to understand information about their loved one's condition before being approached about donation. Should a family wish to go ahead with organ donation, they would be fully supported throughout the organ donation process by a specialist nurse.
Organ donation and transplantation in the UK is dependent on altruism, trust and anonymity. Any type of coercion from clinicians is unacceptable. Health professionals involved in the process follow professional and clinical guidelines that clearly set out what is expected.
In no circumstance would the donor family come into contact with the potential organ recipient or their family prior to making a decision about donation and the decision to donate.
Within each hospital there are separate clinical teams for clinical care and for organ donation. Personal judgement, such as that shown in the Holby City episode by one of the fictional doctors has no place in the clinical or the decision making process.
Organ donation and transplantation depend on high quality processes within hospitals, public trust and transparency and supporting families professionally at all times throughout the donation process. Depictions such as this may have irresponsibly jeopardised that trust.
In the UK around three people die every day because there is a shortage of organs. If we are going to save more lives through transplantation we need people to be proud to donate if and when they can. NHS Blood and Transplant encourages everyone to let those closest to them know their organ donation wishes and to join the NHS Organ Donor Register, you can do this by visiting www.organdonation.nhs.uk or calling 0300 123 2323.