Last month young Luis Goncalves was anything but daunted when he wrote a speech for MPs in the House of Commons.
The nine-year-old from Gosport wrote: ‘Some don’t have a mum or dad who can give them a kidney and some of these children have to wait as long as five years. I know what it was like to wait for a year. It was no fun at all.’
Luis knows because he has received a kidney from his father Ed, who gave the Westminster speech for him.
The father-and-son duo appeared before MPs to persuade more people to go onto the organ donor register.
It came in National Transplant Week, a week in which The News was given access to a kidney transplant operation in which one sister donated the organ to her sister. Throughout the week we highlighted the desperate need for more people to agree to donate their organs.
So, we can only imagine the disappointment, if not anger, Mr Goncalves felt when he watched recent episodes of the BBC’s hospital drama Holby City.
It depicted two characters – one who was in need of an organ and another who was dying and whose family was asked about donating organs. But the two families were shown coming into contact with each other – a storyline which in reality would never happen. Despite agreeing for an organ donation to take place, one of the donor’s relatives then changed their mind – but was told it was too late.
As a result NHS Blood and Transplant said people had asked to be taken off the donor list since the episode was broadcast.
Understandably Mr Goncalves is upset, but the BBC, as we report today, defended the storyline saying it wanted to show what happened if ‘the correct protocols’ were ‘wilfully ignored’.
The power of television to influence society cannot be underestimated. We can all be sucked into TV dramas, but we should not let them divorce us from reality.
The message from Mr Goncalves and his son and all the other donors and recipients we have featured must be heard above the clamour of a medical soap opera.