Author Beware: Ransom’s (TV Show) Cancer Problems
There’s a new show airing called Ransom on CBS that centers around a high priced, privately paid negotiation firm. However, they might want to shell out some dollars and hire a medical consultant.
In the second episode, the show centers around a young man who has just received a lucrative major league baseball contract when he’s diagnosed with cancer, specifically AML, which is a form of leukemia. People kidnap his bone marrow donor and hold her for ransom.
What follows is a major spoiler alert for this episode so read no further is you haven’t seen the show.
The main medical problem centers around this patient’s choice for treatment. In the episode, he decides he doesn’t want chemotherapy and wants to go directly to a bone marrow transplant because “chemo will ruin my lungs and I won’t be able to play baseball.” Of course, the donor is found in time, the baseball player has “surgery”, and quickly recovers in a few days.
Issue One: A patient cannot go directly to bone marrow transplant. Conventional therapy must always be tried first. Bone marrow transplant is never first line therapy for this type of cancer.
Issue Two: A patient will get chemo and/or radiation to wipe out their own immune system in order to receive the bone marrow transplant. A patient cannot have any of their own immune system when they receive their “graft”. It also takes days to accomplish this and the patient is in strict isolation during this process because they have on immune system to fight off disease.
Issue Three: A patient receiving a bone marrow transplant does not go to surgery. The donor does get the cells, but it is simply via a transfusion (as in the same fashion as receiving a blood transfusion). They don’t even leave their hospital room. The person who actually goes to surgery is the donor to harvest their bone marrow.
Issue Four: Can anyone say isolation? Both before and after a bone marrow transplant, the patient is in strict isolation. This means ALL visitors must be gowned, masked, and gloved. The mother cannot be having a conversation with her son without any of these in place.
Showing the patient sicker would have made for a more intense episode. Even better would have been if his own immune system had been wiped out and the actual cells were taken for ransom— that would have truly been a life or death scenario.
I’ve never seen a situation where portraying the real medical scenario makes stories more boring. Writers everywhere— real life is always better than made up implausibilities.