Operation Live, kidney transplant

On October 31, 2012, broadcaster MAX broadcast an operation live on television for the third time in a row. In the program ‘Operation Live’, Charles Groenhuijsen speaks with surgeons and internists about the kidney transplant that will take place during the broadcast. Marian Lutterman donates one of her kidneys to her best friend Marian Scheffer. During the hour and a half broadcast, viewers can ask questions to the specialists.

Operation Live

The first broadcast of Operation Live took place in October 2010. In this broadcast it was decided to broadcast an open heart operation live on television. There was quite a bit of criticism about this beforehand, even from politicians. People were afraid of a sensational programme. People also considered such a major operation to be more of a private matter. Nevertheless, patients appeared to be willing to participate in the program. The broadcast was well received and was followed up in 2011 with brain surgery. This broadcast was also positively received. In 2012, another live operation was scheduled, the kidney transplant.

The kidney transplant

A kidney transplant involves two patients: the donor of the kidney and the recipient of the kidney. In the broadcast of Operation Live, a living donor donates her kidney to her best friend. The surgeon performs a double operation. In the afternoon he operates on the donor. Removing the kidney takes several hours. The operation is done under general anesthesia. Recovery after surgery takes one to three months. The kidney patient, the recipient of the kidney, is then operated on in front of 899,000 viewers. The donor kidney is connected to the blood vessels of the leg and bladder. The operation takes an average of 2 hours and the patient is given general anesthesia. After the operation, the patient must remain in the hospital for 8 to 10 days. To prevent rejection of the kidney, the recipient of the kidney must take a combination of medications. Over time, the number of medications is reduced, but the patient will have to continue taking medications throughout her life to suppress kidney rejection.

On October 31, 2012, Marian Lutterman’s kidney was transplanted into the body of her best friend Marian Scheffer at the AMC in Amsterdam. The Dutch viewing public witnesses this live. Charles Groenhuijsen sits together with vascular surgeon Prof. Dr. DA Legemate and nephrologist Dr. FJ Bemelman in a specially equipped studio on the JO-plein, where they explain kidney problems and the operation before and during the operation. The conversations in the studio alternate with live images from the operating room. Viewers can ask questions during the broadcast that will be answered by the specialists. The transplant is performed by vascular and transplant surgeon Dr. Mirza Idu and Dr. Martine Willems.

Purpose of Operation Live

People who suffer from renal failure, impaired functioning of the kidneys, may require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis or a kidney transplant. The average waiting time for a post-mortem donor kidney is 4 years. It is positive that the Netherlands has the largest number of living donors in Europe, 50%. By explaining the condition during the broadcast of Operation Live, people get a better idea of what it means to be a kidney patient. People who are unsure about becoming a living donor get a good idea of what the operation would mean for them. A look back, six weeks after the operation, with the two best friends, who both survived their operation well, can give others confidence about the successful outcome of a kidney transplant. The Operation Live program has a purely informative character.