AIDS Medicines, Selling Organs – Holby City

(Warning: contains plot spoilers!) The principal bioethics storyline in the episode Fly me to the moon (BBC1, 2nd November 2006)  focus on Nesta, a Zambian who has travelled to the UK to sell her kidney in order to buy medicines for her brother, who has AIDS.  The issues are therefore the availability of drugs in the third world, interwoven with issues of whether it is right to sell one of your own organs.

The best section concerning the supply of medicines to the third world comes when Abra (Adrian Edmondson) tries to retrieve some drugs, which are about to be incinerated, in order to try and get them taken to Africa.  Ric (Hugh Quarsie) intercepts him in the basement and they have a frank discussion about the ethics of current policy, and Adra’s DIY supply idea.  This clip is from 40:00 to 43:12.  There is also a section where Abra discusses pharmaceutical availability in the third world with a sympathetic pharmacist (30:00 to 32:26).

The best sections on selling organs come earlier.  Try 17:22 to 19:20, which includes the line “there used to be a time you could only sell your dignity, but now you can sell your body parts”, or 24:18 to 27:19 where Nesta explains what she has done and why.  03:06 to 04:18 “[whoever did the botched kidney removal]… fell asleep during the ethics class” and 05:12 to 05:52 “how would you sell an organ?” may also be worth a look.

Finally, the episode also has a subplot about an elderly couple in which the wife has Alzheimers disease and the husband has a weak heart.  The TRILT Identifier for this episode is 005D20B9.

One Response to AIDS Medicines, Selling Organs – Holby City

  1. The issue of wasted pharmaceuticals has recently been discussed as part of Today programme (BBC Radio 4) series on the state of the NHS. At the time of writing the story can be reached from the BBC website at – follow the link “Our reporter Jon Manel investigated your concerns about waste in the NHS” to hear the feature.

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