Sunday, April 22, 2007

Grey’s Anatomy Goofs on Bone Marrow Donation

I confess. I became addicted to Grey’s Anatomy last year as part of a mother-daughter bonding experience. Great acting, often interesting character development (though I liked last season much better).

Grey’s did the public a major disservice this week by distorting bone marrow donation. They incorrectly showed Izzy going through a great deal of pain during the procedure. In fact, if she had received the regional (epidural) anesthetic correctly and effectively, she should not have felt any pain at all during the procedure. So between the scary, long needle they showed, and then her gripping Bailey’s hand, the episode certainly doesn’t make the procedure very inviting—and might well scare potential donors off.

For the real scoop on donation, and the option of peripheral blood (circulating) cell (PBSC) transplant, an increasingly used alternative of obtaining donor cells from a peripheral blood specimen (like donating blood), see the National Marrow Donator Program. Information about a clinical trial comparing PBSC and bone marrow donation is also available here. Not as sexy, but much more reliable.

Grey's could redeem itself by providing resources for information at the end of its' shows, if appropriate, and by encouraging cell and organ donation programs.