I posted on Tuesday about a twisted bit of television "entertainment" that was due to air in The Netherlands. Dutch production company Endemol, producers of Big Brother, had scheduled the airing of a show in which three kidney transplant candidates would
try to scavenge compete for the organs from a dying cancer victim. There was a lot of uproar internationally. Well, they aired it tonight.
Shortly before the controversial program was to air, Patrick Lodiers of the "Big Donor Show" said the woman was not actually dying of a brain tumor and the entire exercise was intended to put pressure on the government and raise awareness of the need for organs.
The three prospective recipients were real patients in need of transplants and had been in on the hoax, the show said.
The program concept had received widespread criticism for being tasteless and unethical.
But Lodiers said that it was "reality that was shocking" because around 200 people die annually in the Netherlands while waiting for a kidney, and the average waiting time is more than four years. Under Dutch rules, donors must be friends, or preferably, family of the recipient. Meeting on a TV show wouldn't qualify.
"I thought it was brilliant, really," said Caroline Klingers, a kidney patient who was watching the show at a kidney treatment center in Bussum, Netherlands.
"I know these transplant doctors, and I thought they'll never go and actually do it. But it's good for the publicity and there are no losers."
Oh, how wrong you are, Ms. Klingers. There are losers. The people at Endemol behind the use of lies to promote an agenda for starters. This is a particularly cruel manipulation of people. Even though the participants were in on the hoax, the public was not. They were manipulated by ethically challenged con-artists with a particularly foul "end justifies the means" outlook.
UPDATE: Ed Morrisey, who has a rather personal interest in kidney transplants takes a very, very dim view of the producer's stunt, despite any good it may do.
I share the hope of the producers that this will convince more people to donate their organs for transplant. I also hope that no one pulls this kind of stunt again.