Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Review - Three Rivers premiere

The new medical drama, Three Rivers, premiered on CBS this past Sunday night, October 4th. Myself and others in the transplant community have waited for it with hopeful optimism. In the past, Hollywood has tried to promote organ donation positively but has not quite got the job done. We've hoped this time would be different.

I was looking for three things when watching Three Rivers : 1) truth, 2) realism, and 3) a positive potrayal of what organ recipients and donor families experience. Most important was that donor families be treated with respect and as heroes. They deserve no less. I will grade the premiere with those criteria.
  1. Truth - based up my transplant experience, the experiences of other recipients I've met since my transplant, and based upon what I've heard from donor families, I did not notice anything untruthful in the shows premiere. For that, it gets an A.
  2. Realism - based upon my own transplant experience and my own research, there was at least one part of the premiere that was unrealistic. A pregnant woman needed a heart transplant and received one immediately after she was told she needed it. In the real world, this is not realistic. The average wait for a heart is four months. Also, after this woman's transplant, the ventilator had already been removed when she awoke. After my transplant, the first time I awoke I was still on the ventilator and I had to be slowly weined off. This process took about 12 hours. On realism, the best I can give CBS is a C.
  3. Positive potrayal of organ donation - probably the most important of the three things I was watching for and CBS did a pretty good job. Much better than what Hollywood has done in the past. I particularly liked how CBS dealt with one of the myths that we organ donation advocates deal with all the time. Many people refuse to be organ and tissue donors because they believe that medical personnel will let them die in order to recover their organs if they sign up to be an organ donor. That is simply not true. One of the characters, Ryan Abbott, told the daughter of a donor that everything was done that could be for her father and organ donation ONLY became an option after they exhausted all means of saving him. Here, Hollywood got it right. Thanks Hollywood. However, earlier in the show, the same Ryan Abbott character, who was a member of the organ recovery team, came in contact with this same girl and chastised her when she expressed misgivings about allowing her father to be a donor. First of all, the recovery team does NOT have contact with the donor family, and second, donor families MUST always be treated with respect. They deserve no less. I did not like this at all. I would give CBS an A on "positiveness" but because of this, I'll have to mark them down to B-.
BEST PART OF PREMIERE - line of Dr. Lee where he said referring to organ donation, "it must be a gift."

WORST PART OF PREMIERE - the storyline about the boy who swallowed metal. What did this have to do with organ donation ?? Should have been left out completely. Irrelevant and served no purpose.
Overall, I'll give the first episode of Three Rivers a C+ or B-. Some of it was very, very good, but some things could have been either left out or done better. Episode 2 is this coming Sunday, October 11th at 9 PM EDT / 8 PM CDT. I'll be watching for the same three things and hoping that CBS knocks it out of the park this time. Why ?? Because CBS and Hollywood have a great opportunity with this show. If they get it right, it can translate into many, many Americans deciding to become organ and tissue donors and many, many more getting the same second chance I got. That's what's truly important - saving lives. Let's all pray they get it right.
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