A television contest show in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is being touted as a complete hoax. As reported by Toby Sterling, the show was centered on raising awareness about the need for kidney transplants in the country. But viewers of the contest did not know it was a hoax.
The “contestants” on the “Big Donor Show”, were given a chance at receiving an organ transplant from “Lisa”, reported Sterling. It was revealed during the show that “Lisa” was dying from a brain tumor and would thus be able to donate her kidneys. Twenty-five patients in need of real transplants were picked through and waved off due to different criteria. Some were smokers or previous smokers while others were simply too young or too old. By the end of the show, viewers were given the chance to vote on who should receive the “gift”, according to Sterling’s article.
When viewers found out about the hoax, they were far from supportive. Tim Duyst, a viewer and husband of a patient awaiting a transplant said in Sterling’s report, “It really hurt watching that.”
The production company Endemol, who also produced “Big Brother”, used the show as a platform for the kidney crisis in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands. According to Sterling’s report, around 200 people die each year while waiting for a kidney transplant. Most patients are on the list more than four years before receiving an organ.
Not everyone viewing the show was uncomfortable with its message. “I thought it was brilliant really, “said Caroline Klingers, kidney patient. “I know these transplant doctors, and I thought they’ll never go and actually do it. But it’s good for the publicity and there are no losers,” as quoted in Sterling’s report.
Even though the publicity was negative, the show could not be cancelled according to Dutch officials. Lawmakers believed banning the show could be considered censorship which is a protected right.
Dutch law also forbids the donation of organs from anyone other than friends and family; therefore, the contestants on the show were never really competing for a kidney to begin with.
While the show certainly raised awareness about the need for additional kidney transplant support in the Netherlands, few believe there will be any real changes attributed to its broadcast, Sterling reported.
Toby Sterling. “Kidney Transplant TV show a hoax. Associated Press. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070602/ap_en_tv/netherlands_organ_show;_ylt=Atcq08SzvGYMpBU5GDvwVDHMWM0F