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Controversial Dutch win-a-kidney reality show turns out to be a hoax

UPI News Service, 06/01/2007 

A Dutch TV show in which patients vied for a kidney transplant was a hoax, meant to alert the public about a shortage of donor organs, the broadcaster said.

The youth-oriented BNN said it always intended for the show to raise public awareness about the shortage, Time magazine reported Friday.

"We wanted to make a statement," BNN Chairman Laurens Drillich said in a statement after the show. "That worked. In the past seven days there has been more debate about organ donation than in the last seven years."

The show did not reveal itself as a ruse until near the end. Three candidates -- each needing a kidney transplant to remain alive -- tried to convince a dying woman why they should be the recipient of one of her kidneys.

The organ donor was an actress. The contestants, who were also in on the hoax, were real patients, the network said.

The show received widespread media attention. Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende said during his weekly news conference the program hurt the Netherlands' image abroad.

Legislators urged media minister Ronald Plasterk to stop the show. He said the constitution barred him from interfering with the content of public broadcasting.

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Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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