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Let’s start this topic from an encyclopaedic angle. In 1950, the first human organ transplant was successfully completed. The organ was a kidney and the operation was performed in the US. South Africa got itself on the map when Professor Christiaan Barnard successfully transplanted a human heart in 1967. The rest, as they say, was history.
Nowadays organ transplants are as common as dentures. In some places, according to a CNN report, the illegal trade in organs is on the rise. Many people are being abducted so their organs can be harvested for the privileged few who prefer to use their wallets to cut corners.
You may be wondering what all this talk of human organs is about. It is inspired by a new hospital drama, Three Rivers, that is coming to your screens. The show zooms in on a hospital that specialises in organ transplants. We take a look at the unstable lives of all of those involved in any given transplant procedure.
From the patient in need of a donor organ, to the willing (or unwilling) donor and the medical staff working with those concerned, it is all a roller-coaster ride once you get to know the characters involved.
The recipients, while they are clinging on to every minute of life they have left, are often portrayed as wracked with guilt for falling ill and accepting an organ, especially if it is donated by a relative.
Then there are the would-be donors who go through the emotional process of deciding whether to donate or not.
Once it is discovered that a donor organ is needed, the search for a suitable donor begins, starting with the family. Usually an unlikely and unwilling candidate is found to be a positive match.
In Three Rivers the scriptwriters cash in on the drama attached to such a scenario.
We follow Dr Andy Yablonski (played by Alex O’Loughlin) who is like the George Clooney of this show. He is a hard-working, well-loved lead transplant surgeon.
He works closely with fellow surgeon Dr Miranda Foster (played by Katherine Moennig) who gives Yablonski a hard time with her ill temper. Her late father was a well-known surgeon so she moves around the hospital with an air of inherited importance.
The show is not ER or Grey’s Anatomy, but the drama and the sincerity that it comes with makes it a good alternative to either one of them.
• Three Rivers airs every Thursday at 10.10pm on SABC3.