holby-city_2010NHS Blood and Transplant have criticised BBC One medical drama Holby City over a storyline involving a heart transplant.

Against her mother’s wishes, a brain-dead girl was operated on in last week’s episode to remove her heart for donation, and in one scene the mother even saw the operation in progress.

NHS Blood and Transplant accused the BBC of prioritising a controversial storyline over accuracy and revealed how the show’s bosses ignored the advice of a senior transplant nurse who worked with them on the script.

They add that as a result of the episode several potential donors have asked to be taken off the register.

Their letter read:

“Despite her [Senior transplant nurse] sharing her professional concerns about the proposed storyline, these scenes were nevertheless retained, presumably for the purpose of creating a more controversial storyline in which the bodies of recently dead were portrayed as commodities and the wishes of grieving relatives treated with callous disregard.

“It was in our view both inexcusable and reckless that her in-depth knowledge of the organ donation system was ignored.

“We have already been contacted by people asking to be taken off the Organ Donor Register as a direct result of having seen this programme.”

In response the BBC argued that they set out to portray a scenario which can occur if rules are not followed and that they were in no way suggesting their portrayal of a heart transplant is typical of how such a procedure would be carried out within the NHS.

A statement released by the corporation read:

“Holby City has the utmost respect for real life medical professionals and in no way was it our intention to suggest that our portrayal of a heart transplant was an accurate reflection of how such a scenario would typically be handled within the NHS.

“As with all storylines we worked closely with medical experts who advised on transplant protocols but the purpose of this storyline is to dramatise the consequences that could arise should the correct protocols be wilfully ignored.

“This is an ongoing story and in the weeks to come viewers will see the main character Mo face up to the fallout of her actions.”

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