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Fact or Fiction: Do TV shows accurately portray organ, eye and tissue donation?

Before Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Doctor, there was ER and House M.D. For years, hospital and police dramas have been a prime-time television staple. While most popular TV series consult with real medical professionals to be able to realistically represent health-related storylines, that doesn’t always mean it’s medically accurate.

TV dramas can only handle so much reality before it removes the tension and suspense. After all, many of us are watching these shows to escape reality for an hour or two. We may know it’s all made-for-TV fiction, but over the years writers have become better at vividly showing stories that mimic real-life situations, and it can have an impact on people’s perceptions—or in the case of organ, eye and tissue donation—their decision to register as a donor.

Among other inaccuracies, television dramas often incorrectly portray or perpetuate myths about organ, eye and tissue donation. Last week, in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy it showed the doctors being involved in making decisions about organ allocation and donor authorization as standard procedure. In reality, the fact is the medical team working to save a patient’s life is completely separate from the team that approaches the family to talk about donation.

Completely accurate or not, watching medical scenarios does start conversation and raise awareness. We are always in favor of mainstream media sharing both fictional and non-fictional stories about organ and tissue donation to raise questions and start discussions. If you see something that makes you curious as to whether or not it is true, do your research and share it with others. It is through educating ourselves and others about the real facts where knowledge can grow.