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Monday, June 04, 2007
The Great Hoax...
...remember last week when I talked about reality going too far? Well, apparently it went too far, and it didn't.

Confused yet? Yeah, so was I. But apparently I sort of called it when I wrote that column. Just before 'The Big Donor Show' was set to air, the producers revealed that it was all a big hoax. Really. I couldn't make this up if I tried.

They didn't intend to give away the kidney of a terminally ill woman, because the woman wasn't terminally ill. The contestants on the show, however, were in need of kidneys (and were in on it). The producers admitted prior to the airing that they did this to increase awareness of organ donation in The Netherlands and to see if they could get the laws changed.

You see, organ donation in The Netherlands isn't like organ donation in the United States. If I'd done my homework before that last blog (and I didn't because I was outraged and under the assumption that the rules were the same worldwide), I would have found out that Dutch law requires that you be a friend or family member in order to receive something like a kidney.

That doesn't mean you can't receive from a complete stranger, but it's certainly a long wait - the average time to wait in The Netherlands is about 4 years and about 200 people a year die waiting for one. That doesn't improve in the United States, however - the wait time here is between 3 and 5 years depending on your blood type and every 90 minutes someone on the transplant list dies (I believe that's the entire list, not just those waiting for kidneys).

So, I partially called it last week. This was all an attempt to raise awareness about organ donation and the difficulties surrounding it. Apparently some viewers learned things they didn't know, as did people around the world who were following this story. The upside is that it wasn't real or I might be writing a totally different entry today (or not writing one at all since I covered it last week).

The Dutch Cabinet had gotten some pressure to ban the show, but they figured that it would amount to censorship and proceeded to let it air. I guess that's a good example of skewed logic...

...censorship is worse than making people aware of the amount of people who die waiting for a kidney.