It’s no secret around our office at the Living Legacy Foundation that I love Grey’s Anatomy. It became one of my favorite shows while I was in college, and I have watched it (or DVRd it) religiously ever since. I love the characters, and I love that the show uses real medical cases to build their own medical storylines. When I took the job as the communications associate at the LLF, I knew what the job entailed, but you know what I didn’t know? I didn’t know that this job was going to make me SUPER critical about how my favorite show approaches the topic of donation.
For the last two+ years, I have anxiously sat on my couch every Thursday to tune into Grey’s Anatomy, praying they would either not have a storyline about donation in the show, or that if they did, that they would just “get it right” for once! Sometimes they do a great job explaining certain aspects of donation. They are really good at explaining brain death, and the fact that donors at this fictional hospital, Seattle Grace Mercy West, are held in very high regard, is always touching. During the current season, we have seen many donation storylines. These stories have not been entirely accurate as far as the donation process goes, but they have done a good job telling the compelling stories of donors and recipients while also demonstrating the need for organ donors.
However, the surgeons are almost always guilty of making me cringe when they talk about donation. While watching last night’s episode, I experienced the worst feeling EVER while watching Dr. Alex Karev refer to a brain-dead baby as a “turnip in a cabbage patch.” I wanted to cry. All I could think about was the donor family members who may have been watching the show, who just saw a surgeon (a fictional surgeon, but a surgeon nonetheless) refer to a brain dead patient in the NICU as a “turnip in a cabbage patch.” Granted, the other surgeons in the episode let Dr. Karev know that his comment was entirely insensitive and out of line, but that did not erase the fact it was said.
I want to remind everyone that Grey’s Anatomy is a TV show, and many things are fabricated for character development and ratings. Not everything you see on this show or other medical dramas can be taken as fact, and in the organ, eye and tissue donation world, such a comment would never be made by anyone involved. Donors are always held at such a high regard and are treated with the utmost respect at all times.
The writers of Grey’s Anatomy blog about their episodes every Friday morning and this morning’s post explained why this particular scene was written into the story. Click here to read the blog entry about last night’s episode. They do offer up an explanation of why this comment was written into the storyline if you are interested in reading it.