Update: organ donor show not real...
June 1, 2007, 11:47PM
Organ donor TV show turns out to be a hoax
Effort was meant to spur changes in Dutch laws on organ donation
By TOBY STERLING
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS — A television show in which a woman would donate a kidney to a contestant was revealed as a hoax Friday, with presenters saying they were trying to pressure the government to reform organ donation laws.
Shortly before the program was to air, Patrick Lodiers of the Big Donor Show said the woman was not dying of a brain tumor and the entire exercise was intended to put pressure on the government and raise awareness of the need for organs.
The three prospective recipients were real patients in need of transplants and had been in on the hoax, the show said.
The program concept had received widespread criticism for being tasteless and unethical.
But Lodiers said it was "reality that was shocking" because around 200 people die annually in the Netherlands while waiting for a kidney, and the average wait is more than four years. Under Dutch rules, donors must be friends, or preferably, family of the recipient. Meeting on a TV show wouldn't qualify.
"I thought it was brilliant, really," said Caroline Klingers, a kidney patient who was watching the show at a kidney treatment center in Bussum, Netherlands.
"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."
During the show, 25 kidney patients were vetted by "Lisa," and most were quickly dismissed for being too old, too young, smokers, ex-smokers or unemployed. Contestants gave moving pleas for why they should receive the organ.
"It really hurt watching that," said Tim Duyst, whose wife is awaiting a transplant and cannot work. "You're dismissed in a wave of the hand."
Viewers were called on to express an opinion or vote for their favorite candidate by text message.