AMSTERDAM - A 37-year-old woman with an inoperable brain tumor wants to donate a kidney before she dies and will choose the recipient on Dutch television from among three contestants, a TV network said yesterday, contending it wants to highlight a crisis in organ donations.
Asked to intervene, the government declined, saying it would be censorship to stop the broadcast, regardless of how distasteful - and even unethical - it might be. And it is unclear whether the contestants are a medical match with the terminally ill woman and whether the winner would be capable of receiving her kidney.
The publicly financed national television network, BNN, said it intended to go ahead with the program Friday, drawing attention to the hundreds who die each year for lack of a kidney transplant.
The scheduled broadcast of The Big Donor Show reached the floor of parliament after a member of the governing Christian Democrats, Joop Atsma, questioned whether a public contest for a lifesaving organ would cross the boundary of merely objectionable to illegal.
Education Minister Ronald Plasterk responded that while "the program is unfitting and unethical," interference would amount to censorship.
BNN defended the program. "We think the reality is even more shocking and tasteless: Waiting for an organ is just like playing the lottery," said network chair Laurens Drillich.
The network identified the donor only as Lisa. During the show, she will hear interviews with the three candidates, their families and friends.
Viewers will be able to vote for a candidate via SMS text message, but the final determination will be Lisa's, BNN said.