Does anyone watch it? I used to be a huge fan (admittedly predominantly driven by my desire to be treated by Dr Kovac) but I haven't watched it for a while. Just a warning, if you are hoping to catch up on last night's episode, don't read the rest of this blog.
Flicking through the channels last night, I noticed the new series was starting. Not just the new series, the very last ER series. I figured I'd watch it, ER like most TV dramas is fairly easy to catch up on, even after a prolonged period of absence.
An ambulance had crashed, or exploded, or spontaneously combusted or something, and two of the lead characters (Abbie Lockheart and Dr Pratt for any followers) were on board. Both appeared to have minor injuries and were taken to the hospital where it was discovered Pratts were more extensive.
Pratt's brother (this is an assumption based on dialogue as I didn't recognise the character) was present whilst the doctors worked hard battling various complications that arose. Once he was stablised and on bipass, a different doctor came in to do some tests on his brain which revealed no cerebral activity.
Dr Smoulderingbutpainedlooking took Pratt's brother aside and told him that in his wallet, Pratt carried a donor card. His brother through gritted teeth answered "he's not dead yet" but agreed that should it come to that he would give consent.
Several hours passed (apparently) and the brain stem tests were repeated. The team explained to the brother that there was no activity, that there hadn't been for 4 hours and that the bipass was doing all the work of his heart which was also gone.
So far I know this is sounding like a pretty typical TV drama (well it is) but there were a few key elements that really struck me. There were a lot of close ups on the character throughout, and he looked very much alive, just like he was sleeping. There was no screaming from those around, no spurting blood and machines going off, it was all very peaceful and he looked...stable. This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest hurdles in Organ Donation, where you are being told someone has gone but your eyes are telling you something completely different.
The team then explained that he would be taken to theatre on the bipass machine to preserve the organs. They wheeled him slowly through the corridors, with members of staff gazing sorrowfully in typical TV drama style. By this time, I was sobbing, not just the odd tear, those huge noisy ugly sobs that rip right up from your chest. Some of it was to do with the fact that I cry at most things on TV (thank you mother for that gene) but there was a bigger part of me which hurt for all families who have had to go through that, who have made that decision and who have been so very brave.
I felt on the whole it was a good portrayal; the organ donation bit didn't actually dominate the storyline; it was a big part, but was made to seem like the norm, the right thing to do, no matter how hard. Also, this wasn't just a one-episode character who made an appearance to be an organ donor and then was never heard of again, this was a main character, a character who many viewers will have watched develop over the years.
A long blog about an episode of a TV drama. Hmm. But I had to talk about it as it did affect me quite deeply. TV can do that kind of thing you know.
edit - apparently you can watch the episode on catchup here.