I’m back, your self-designated medical television show critic!
I was going through my DVR this weekend when I realized I had not yet watched the episode of “Private Practice” from April 24. I can’t get enough of the inner office drama that occurs at the small practice in California.
In this episode, a young girl was brought into the ER following a tragic stabbing. The doctors at St. Ambrose Hospital worked tirelessly to save the little girl’s life, however, they are unsuccessful.
Following a neurological exam, it is determined that the girl had died. The family was told that brain death had occurred. Everything about this episode was good thus far, but this is when my frustration began to arise.
The TV doctors did not accurately explain brain death.
Brain death is defined as the irreversible loss of all function of the brain including the brain stem. Brain death is final, a person cannot recover. It is legally, medically and ethically death. However, the show portrayed it as though the family needed to make the decision to discontinue further medical care. Sadly, this is not the case when brain death has occurred. There are not more decisions about care to be made, as the person has died.
After having some time to accept what has occurred, the father in the show suggested organ donation. He said that he wants his daughter’s tragic, untimely death to mean something. He asked the doctor if donating her organs will mean something.
At this point I start to like the show again, the doctor responded without hesitation and says that yes, organ donation means something. She went on to say that it means so very much to so many people, especially those whose lives will be saved.
The message about the importance of organ donation is real. The donation of organs following a person’s death means something indescribable to the recipients and also to the donor’s family. Organ donation can be the one positive that comes out of such a painful loss of a loved one.
I am happy that “Private Practice” focused on the importance of organ donation, but I do wish it had explained the process more accurately. There are many myths about organ donation, and unfortunately we see them on TV shows a lot. Misinformation often prevents people from registering as donors, so get all of the facts about organ, tissue and eye donation by clicking here. Then register to be a donor!
- Erin Henry, community educator