Please write a response to Days of Our Lives about their inaccurate storyline concerning stolen organs from prisoners (Sample Letter below)
I was one of the fortunate ones who did not lose electricity for long during this crazy winter weather. Although I was able to stay warm, I did enjoy a day at home in the middle of the week with my eight-month-old son, Ty, due to poor driving conditions.
During naptime (an all too treasured time of day for mothers) I thought I would catch up on some of my favorite daytime shows I haven’t seen in while. While watching “Days of Our Lives,” I was appalled at one of the current story lines.
While Hope (one of the main characters and also a police officer) is in a women’s correctional facility, she stumbles upon some unexplained deaths of fellow prisoners. She begins investigating these deaths, and finds out the healthcare staff members at the prison are not treating these patients and letting them die so they can sell their organs “under the table” and make some big money.
As if this wasn’t angering enough, they showed the prison healthcare personnel removing a heart from a person (who happened to be Hope’s cousin) who wasn’t even dead yet! Now, I see where the producers were trying to show the huge need for organ donors, as 18 people die a day waiting for a transplant, but did they really have to take it that far?!
They couldn’t have gotten it any more wrong and they fed into one of the biggest concerns that prevent people from registering as donors: that their death may be hastened in order to remove their organs.
Doctors are most concerned with saving the life in front of them, regardless of that patient’s status or reputation in society. One life will not be spared to save another and organ recovery is only performed when someone has previously declared their intent to be a donor after death or whose family has authorized donation. It is always performed AFTER death has occurred. And doctors always make sure they have done everything they can to save a life before organ donation is even considered.
In addition, donation in the United States is regulated by the federal government. Buying or selling organs is illegal and punishable by imprisonment and fines. The recovery process is handled by and organ procurement organization, like Lifeline of Ohio, and transplanted by surgeons at the certified transplant centers across the country.
We want people to register as donors and become real-life heroes, but how can we when a show like this is portraying organ and tissue donation so inaccurately?
Lifeline of Ohio who is not only trying to helps saves lives, but also honor donors’ wishes and help donor families have a little bit of peace in knowing their loved one was a hero.
Story lines, like this one, make it harder to do our job. I am going to work extra hard to get the truth out about organ and tissue donation and the positive effects it can have for all families involved.
- Whitney Hoge, donation specialist
Days of Our Lives Sample Letter
February 7, 2011
Ted Corday, Betty Corday and Irna Phillips, Creators, Days of Our Lives
Ken Corday, Executive Producer, Days of Our Lives
c/o Corday Productions
3400 West Olive Avenue, Suite 170
Burbank, CA 91505
Dear Days of Our Lives Creators and Producers,
The organ donation and transplant community is very concerned about your recent storyline featuring a black market ring for organs in prison and our concern is well-founded.
The black market and being killed for organs are two dominant myths that prevent many people from registering as organ and tissue donors. When television programs reinforce myths and misconceptions about donation it could costs real lives.
Myths and misconceptions about organ and tissue donation continue to challenge Donate Life’s national public education efforts to encourage Americans to register as donors. More than 110,000 men, women and children are on the national transplant waiting list and one in three people on that list will die because an organ wasn’t available.
Television is a powerful societal medium, especially when popular shows like Days of Our Lives reach millions of viewers who can potentially donate organs. The donation and transplant community is increasingly concerned with the accuracy of donation-related storylines on television and our concern about inaccuracies on television is well-founded.
Research by Dr. Susan Morgan from Purdue University reveals that the public believes what they see on television when it comes to organ donation and that inaccurate storylines prevent people from registering as organ and tissue donors. Also research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention finds that “if soap operas fail to convey accurate information, or portray risky behavior without the associated health consequences, there is the possibility millions of people will suffer negative effects.”
Your episode could be misleading to viewers as it reinforces two of the most common myths that our research shows prevents donation – that a black market for deceased donor organs exists and that people are killed for their organs. This duel myth is not only inaccurate but also undermines the public’s trust in the donation and transplant system. Organ and tissue donation is only possible when the public understands and trusts the existing system. Here are the facts:
People are not killed for their organs
• There are no reported cases of people being killed for their organs in the US.
• This myth has been debunked by Snopes.com as an urban ledged that began in the 90’s with a Law & Order episode.
A “black market” for organs from deceased donors does not exist
• It is illegal to buy or sell organs in the United States.
• There are no reported cases of a physician performing a transplant of an organ that came from outside of the established system of allocation. Organ donors are either deceased donors whose family consent to donation or living donors who are evaluated through the transplant system.
What can happen:
• People can and do go to other countries to buy organs. Traveling abroad to buy an organ is called “transplant tourism” and there are many active markets for organs.
• Payment for organs, which is illegal in the US, can occur if someone needing an organ directly offers a living donor compensation to entice them to donate.
• There is one allegation of an “organ broker” who worked with willing living donors to bring them to the US to donate a kidney in exchange for monetary compensation. The transplant center denies any knowledge of this illegal contract between the donor and recipient.
Ultimately, we are asking that you refrain from incorporating the main myths and misconceptions about donation in your storylines and we are here to help. Donate Life has a program called Donate Life Hollywood that can connect you to all organ donation and transplant information with the most extensive network of national experts in the field. Simply contact Tenaya Wallace at email@example.com or 213-229-5659.
Thank you for any support you can provide in the future to assure that a life-saving organ is available to everyone in need.