Only a small fraction of the productions provide the public with complete and accurate understanding of brain death.
The study by neurologists published in the American Journal of Transplantation examined how brain death and organ donation are portrayed in film and television.
In addition, most productions do not provide professional discussions about organ donation.
‘The entertainment media forms an important platform for pubic education and so the quality of programs that feature brain death should be improved to provide relevant information, highlighting the importance of organ donation.’
Brain death is the total and irreversible loss of brain function. It occurs when the person suffers from a catastrophic brain injury or illness. The illness can be cerebrovascular injury like aneurysm or stroke, anoxia or brain tumor.
When a person is brain dead, it implies that the brain will not function again. But despite brain death, other vital organs like heart, liver and kidneys continue to function for a short time, if the person is supported using a ventilator or breathing machine.
Mechanical support helps to keeps the organs to be harvested viable until they are recovered. It is under this circumstance that donation of most vital organs generally takes place.
Since television and movies serve as a key source for public education, the quality of productions that feature brain death must be improved.
"This can only be facilitated by direct communication between the entertainment industry, neurologists, and the transplant community. Although film and television are intended to entertain audiences, the public often treats them as sources of education, so it is important for productions to be both compelling and informative," said Dr. Ariane Lewis, co-author of the study.