Holby City

Like many people, I was shocked and appalled at their recent gross misrepresentation of organ transplantation. Worse still was the news that a number of registered organ donors subsequently rang the NHS Blood & Transplant service – who maintain the donor register – asking to be removed. I received an unapologetic round-robin letter from the BBC when I contacted them about it, and then discovered that a number of transplant recipients and donors had received exactly the same (non-) response.

We agreed that we would put together a joint response, and I said I would have a go at a first draft. So here it is. Email me any comments to ecg@mail.com, and also let me know which ‘category’ you fall into (eg transplant recipient, donor) and the month/year your procedure took place.


We are transplant recipients and donors. Most of us have never met. But we recently discovered that many of us had, individually, all written to the BBC about a recent episode of Holby City.

The show had carried a storyline about organ transplantation. It was so shockingly inaccurate and dramatically contrived that it has prompted people to leave the donor register.

When we contacted the BBC, we all received exactly the same wooden and woefully inadequate response. They probably thought (or hoped) that we would then go away.

We won’t, though. Because of our experiences, we’re pretty determined people – and hardly likely to be deterred by a BBC bureaucrat. The BBC may have failed to respond to the complaint lodged by the NHS Blood & Transplant service (whose consultants to the episode were roundly ignored). But it would be making a serious mistake to under-estimate people who know close-up the reality of a life-saving transplant.

Britain already faces a chronic shortage of organ donors. Every day, 3 people die because there aren’t enough of them. That is 1000 loved ones who will die needlessly this year, and whose lives could have been saved. For people to leave the donor database because of a cheap soap plot that could now literally cost lives should leave BBC Executives feeling deeply ashamed.

We are not here to complain, however. We are offering to help the BBC undo the damage.

We will work with the BBC to help it raise awareness of the dramatic need for more donors, including among its own staff. We will arrange for the BBC Director-General and senior Executives to meet with transplant recipients, including children, as well as live donors and those on the waiting list. Many of us already support the work of the NHS Blood & Transplant service to recruit more people to the register. We will happily tell our story to the BBC.

The shortage of donor organs is one of the biggest health crises in this country. We hope that our offer will help to ensure the BBC never makes such a terrible error of judgement again.

Better still: we will ensure some good comes out of this. We will help the BBC recruit more people to the donor register than have been lost because of this episode.

We do this freely and of good will. We are now just waiting for the call from the BBC Director General Tony Hall.

We know all about waiting. But until that call comes, we won’t go away.