Netflix, do better: ‘Chambers’ can cost lives
On Friday, April 26, Netflix premiered a new original series titled, “Chambers,” which follows the eerie journey of a teenager who underwent a heart transplant. Following her operation, she is haunted by visions of her donor and sinister impulses.
While this could easily be described as “just another ominous original series” to 114,000 people in the U.S., this show is an offensive and disastrous nightmare.
These 114,000 people are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant and another name is added to the list every 10 minutes. On average, 20 people die every day from the lack of available organs.
I was once one of those people. My health took a major turn for the worse in 2015 and I unexpectedly went into heart failure, leaving me in the most unexpected situation – No. 1 on the regional heart transplant waiting list. I’ve been healthy since my transplant in April 2016, but that does not mean my road to recovery has been easy. I’ve struggled immensely with survivor’s guilt, PTSD and returning to normalcy in the three years after my surgery, which is why when I woke up to an email from Netflix on Friday recommending that my next binge-watch session focus on “Chambers,” I was angry beyond belief.
I am an avid supporter of the entertainment industry, but seeing a show advertising demonic and haunting behavior from an organ donor – a life-saving organ donor – makes me livid. I am all for creativity and exploring unique storylines that haven’t been done before, but this one hits a little too close to home for me.
I’m not asking for people not to watch the show or to ban it along with me, I’m simply stating that Netflix needs to outwardly address the fictitious plot line in an effort to restore public trust in the process of organ donation. As a former patient who watched people around me die while waiting for that call to come and as a survivor who still looks back on her own past with fear, I cringe every time I imagine someone watching this show and then walking away with misconceptions, or someone seeing this show and instantly associating organ donation with horror and fear.
Statistics prove that while 95% of people support organ donation, only 58% actually are registered donors. Society simply cannot survive if those statistics continue to decrease. We should be painting stories of light, hope and optimism; stories of patients living on and carrying their donor’s legacy, not being haunted by it. The relationship between a donor and recipient is fragile, tragic and beautiful and no one can explain it better than someone who lived it.
My main problem with the show is that society is already so uneducated about organ donation, a topic that isn’t discussed much in the media or in educational systems. People can’t separate what’s portrayed in Hollywood from what happens in everyday life. That is simply a risk that those 114,000 people can’t risk taking.
Netflix could release an advisory warning, educating viewers on the topic or airing clips after the episodes of the actors talking about the benefits of the donor registry.
Organ donation is a touchy subject – I get it – but you know what is also a touchy subject? Seeing your personal trauma and your darkest time premiered as the latest show in the horror genre on your favorite streaming service. Pretty spooky, right?