Television can save your life

Three Rivers Episode 7

CAN a single TV show actually save lives? “Three Rivers,” a CBS prime-time series on donation and transplantation, did. Sadly, that remarkable fact was not enough to save itself.

As the donation and transplantation community mourns the premature shelving of “Three Rivers,” we stand in awe of its achievements. A month ago, a San Antonio, Texas, family donated the corneas of a loved one who had passed away. They said yes because they wanted their family member to help others, just like on “Three Rivers.”

Two weeks later, a family on the East Coast donated the organs of their teenage daughter because she had talked to them about donation after watching “Three Rivers” on a Sunday night.

On Thanksgiving weekend, a daughter in Louisiana gave consent for her mother to save three lives. She too was a fan of “Three Rivers,” and the coordinator was impressed by how much the family knew about the donation process from watching the show.

For years, the organ and tissue donation community held its breath every time donation was used as a television storyline. Inaccurate and horrific scenarios about black markets and stolen organs made us initiate letter-writing campaigns; even worse, research showed it kept viewers from signing up to be donors.

Finally, one show got it right. “Three Rivers” viewers got something extra with their nightly fare of drama: They had a chance to learn the truth about donation and were challenged to talk about a topic families rarely wish to discuss – death and their wishes at end of life.

The night that “Three Rivers” premiered, 9.2 million people saw what could essentially be called a 42-minute PSA on organ donation. There are not many public education campaigns that can reach 9.2 million people in a single hour.

From the outset, producer Carol Barbee and her writers reached out to donation and transplant professionals to ensure accuracy in each story and to find the stories that reminded us that death touches us all, that precious legacies can be left by anyone, and that people can gain life through a tremendous gift. Alex O’Loughlin, the show’s star, became a Donate Life Ambassador and wore the Donate Life pin and wristband proudly each episode. This was television taking the high road.

Unfortunately, the high road doesn’t immediately translate into high ratings and the advertising revenue on which television depends. At a time when networks are casting about for new ways to combat declining audiences, quick decisions to shelve compelling shows without allowing them to mature and develop an audience may be a part of their problem, not their solution.

In the world of organ donation, saving lives comes first, and “Three Rivers” helped to do just that. We can only hope that whatever new form “Three Rivers” takes on, even in a midnight rerun, it will keep inspiring the gift of life.

Tenaya Wallace is the campaign director for Donate Life Hollywood, a national campaign to promote the accurate portrayal of donation in TV and film. Tom Mone is the CEO of OneLegacy, the organ recovery agency serving the greater Los Angeles Area.

Source: Daily News

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  1. · Edit

    Bring back Three Rivers; As much as I care for Alex O’Loughlin, the show needs to air. It brought awareness and conversation about a topic that people have a tough time with and often never have. The show needs to be on the air.

    1. Becca, thanks so much for saying this.. um, to say that of if it had not been for cancer that my dad had.. he would of more than not given the go ahead.
      of as to this show and of it reaching out.. well to say that of the chance of Three Rivers getting to of its last 5 episodes that were at the time left unaired as they were.. and now for sure that of CBS has since near the start of this month of June(2010) in airing them.. plus too that of well as to re-airing and that of what series do get to have that happen.. that well how about this.. and that is to polity asking CBS.. and yes w/ lots of honest honey and no signs of vinerage.. not even that of a hint of a smell of it either.. and well add to this that of letting others know and well sort of speak our word of mouth does get around even w/ theses days of everything.. and too.. of 1’s experience of unto another’s and well connections and so on and so on.. can for sure reach out way out beyond and too.. that of well… who knows… it may take a while and yet of w/ every moment that of if not of for one and yet another just may … and we never know of who just might hear and/or learn of it and well.. just check history right.. of how things came about and yup even as to and yes I may be showing a bit of my age.. and yet well… the tv series emergency.. and that even then made and even now in re-runs.. and well… every time is another of possibly someone of to someone’s and they relay to well… right?

  2. CBS hAS a saying ‘CBS Cares’. Cbs does not care at all. They are just a bunch of cold hearted jerks that can’t see a good show when it does air. If they had given Three Rivers a chance I am sure it would of been big. Also change the day. What with football fo coarse it will run late.Three Rivers does have a very important message. Not every program has to be kill,kill all the time. I am so mad at CBS I refuge to watch the station anymore.

  3. 60 year old female. Love him. Bring him back hopefully as a vampire.

  4. MoonLight fans- SyFy Moonlight marathon today,8am to 4pm.

  5. Thankyou for post in this on here … it gose to show how just one tv show can save so meny life’s 😀 … Has Alex O’Loughlin and the other cast / crow member’s read this do you think ???
    Bet it would make them feal realy happy and proud about the work they did on the show if they havent read it 😀 xox thankyou agen xx

  6. PS. Last nite on Two and a Half Men, one of the scenes had Charlie Sheen looking at his drivers’ license and commenting how happy he was to see he is an ORGAN DONOR. Even the sitcoms know how important this subject is!!!

  7. It broke my heart when CBS pulled the rug (or plug) from underneath Three Rivers. The story need to be address to the American public .. unless it hits home, no one is interested in the donor program included CBS. The American public is interested in nothing less than shows that are about the criminal and killing — CSI, CSI-Miami, CSI-NY, NCSI, Cold Cases, Criminal Mind, etc. The list goes on. We are desensitized to any show that doesn’t provide blood and gore. I am sorry for the cast in Three Rivers. They all were professional and great actors. They made the story believable. Oh, to have doctors or hospitial like Three Rivers. That would make having to go to a hospital bearable. Summary, I like Three Rivers, I am upset at CBS, they really didn’t give the show a chance to place it against football on Sunday night. On any other station it would be considered a hit.

  8. That article said it all so beautifully. I am amazed at those who comment that Alex in TR doesn’t even resemble the Alex we all know and love. What??? In every role hehas played so far he has had a different look and a different character/personality. That’s what an actor does. His portrayal of Dr. Andy was flawless and commendable. The reasons that this show didn’t make ratings is so obvious and has nothing to do with entertainment vs education. The show aired at a bad time when viewers didn’t get a chance to notice it. I think any show given a decent chance that has such potential as TR would eventually bring in the revenue. I wonder how the ratings went for Cold Case and NCIS Sunday nite after football again….

  9. I was heart-broken when CBS pulled the rug (plug or whatever) from underneath Three Rivers. It was a story that needed to be addressed. Yet the public is interested in nothing unless it’s kill, kill and kill — like CSI, NCSI-NY, NCSI-Miami, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, etc. the list goes on.

  10. I agree that CBS didn’t give Three Rivers a chance. I sent them feed back and I told them to let Alex go so that someone (network) that really wanted him could build a show around him. The show had no chance because it never aired at the correct time and never at the same time twice. How can a show succeed if the viewers can’t find it when it is supposed to be on.

    Alex deserves better than that and I will watch anything he’s staring in. I even watched that B rated horror flick, Man Thing or something like that.

    I love you Alex! HANG IN THERE.

  11. I’m so upset that C-BS( bull s__t) Has done it again to our ALEX. I hope he does’t go back to that network. I hope one of the others see what a wonderfull actor he is.

    I would love to see him more on the Big Screen, even if that means we can’t get our weekly

    Small sceen just doesn’t seem to give the good programs a chance, They would rather see WHO CAN DANCE, or WHO CAN EAT THE MOST BUGS, Or who can’t sing. W H Y.
    Alex is too good of a person to have the carpet yanked out from under everytime he has a series with meaning.
    Sorry just had to vent.

    Alex 4-ever in our H E A R T S.

  12. of as to well… as to learning is of only when we are well like in school and that of when something has us right there that we either interested in , of too.. maybe just caught our eye sort of speak… there is as of another and that is as to and yes this may sound like what?… and yet , even as to in whatever manner it may be.. we still learn and even…. that of as to say we may not even of listening as we may think we’re not and yet … hey it for sure can still happen… and yes with Three Rivers …that for sure of well.. we each of learned and too.. of even as wild as this may sound… of as to re-learn when we least expect it of something said or happened in a scene or scenes of Three Rivers… and too…who knows of where and who we might be near and someone else of who well… I think you get what I’m trying to say… hey to say that there have been many times of when as to of a series I enjoyed even a ways down the road and yet well..hey even mac gyver… and well… it is of what sticks with us even when as to say that we for sure can a human beings go.. can think that no way… and yet…hey…just saying…you never know.

  13. well… this possibly may of something that even that of well Three Rivers as far as CBS is concerned… and yet… what about that of all the good this series has done and still is … that is even w/ CBS done what they have done… and that is… CONTACTING … say… Entertainment Tonight, and the many other Entertainment shows like that and too… as wild as this sound that of even say in someway that of CNN, and that of the BBC… no joke!!!!

    think about it… of to say that well… of somehow that of all of Three Rivers has and is still sort of speak… and of is that of no thanks to CBS any more since well… and yet put a spin on it as to not CBS part of it.. and yet only that of how Three Rivers and the much info that for sure has and is helping in more ways beyond …

    and yes this just my opinion.. and yet think about it.. of sending that kind of well … to say that as to .. i’m for the most part sure that you know of as to the reason all of this as to info to that of connecting and connections… of human caring.. and not that other one…. just my opinion…

    anyone of have any other ideas that well for sure just possible give credit to Three Rivers, and of all going on from there….?

    o’ and hey.. yes it is the hoildays.. and yet well.. as of … “Good Will To All……” ok so i updated it just a bit. um.. well isn’t that of what and of who matters is all?

  14. I emailed Tenaya Wallace and got a very lovely response from her. She promised to make sure CBS and Alex saw it.

  15. Thanks Mary Ann for the info – just sent my e-mail. See what happens. Thank you Tiffany for
    the reprint of that message. Hope all is well with you and your family.

  16. JoJo, Tenaya Wallace is one of the writers of TV can save your life and the CEO of donate life Hollywood. I think that is her title. Here is her e-mail address. the one I gave before was incorrect. I already sent an e-mail. she is going to put them all together and try to get some action. Mention the sponsors of the show in your e-mail. Can’t hurt

  17. sorry gang – when I read the article, I didn’t go far enough down to see who Ms. Wallace is – Guess I scrolled down too fast to see it the first time.

  18. I looked up the address for Donate Life America – the organization supported by Alex. Along wtih Mary Ann’s suggestion to e-mail, letter writing may also be effective. Here it is-
    Donate Life America
    700 North Fourth Street
    Richmond, VA 23219
    Ph: 804-782-4920.
    If you go onto their website, they have a “contact” line where you can submit comments and
    questions – that may also be an outlet for us. Worth a shot.

  19. Mary Ann – not to be ignorant, but who is Tenaya Wallace? I agree with you about contacting “Donate Life” – anything is worth a shot.

  20. Unfortunately, CBS will probably not get bad press because of the cancellation of Three Rivers because some people, the so-called “fans”, and critics wrote Three Rivers off before it had a chance. Those people are saying “we told you so” and enjoying every minute of it. It would take a miracle for CBS to reconsider giving Three Rivers another chance – as Mary Ann said, they’re taking Three Rivers off to re-run a episodes of NCIS Los Angeles, one of their breakout hits this year. The bottom line is what’s heard, not the fans. All we can hope for is that Alex gets out of his contract with CBS and finds another manager who will really try to help him. Two shows, two cancellations – not good on any resume. Alex deserves better.

  21. JoJo, Tenaya Wallace is asking us to e-mail her showing our support of organ donation, Alex, Three Rivers, and the writers. I say let’s go for it.

  22. Myabe Ms. Barbee should lobby the medical community and ask for their support to bring “Three Rivers” back. The fan approach doesn’t seem to work but it the producer has the support of the medical profession behind her, that may speak volumes. I think we should contact Ms. Barbee with our show of support and let her know our thoughts. It would be worth a try.

  23. Sadly most people watch TV for the entertainment value, not for an education. CBS is there to make money . If the show doesn’t have the following it needs to make money for the executives then it stands to reason they will pull it. We know all the “True” Alex fans are devastated, but he needed to cultivate “New” fans. This wasn’t happening with the subject matter, of yet another medical drama and his new look didn’t help either. Understand that he lost some of his following. He doesn’t even resemble the Alex we fell in love with. If you’ve forgotten take a look at the video on This Page, ” Why We Love Alex. Go to his website on My Space if you have forgotten. Don’t start the song “oh you only like Moonlight.”. Not true. We started watching Alex before long Moonlight He had a lot more than Moonlight going for him. Have you ever thought about how he got the series Moonlight. It was from his previous work. You can’t be mad at CBS girls, they are in it for the money and the series wasn’t making it.

  24. Thanks Tiffany for posting this beautiful letter. I wish we could get the sponsers of Three Rivers to see it and also I wish we could get it published in a newspaper somewhere. People need to know that a show that has a good effect on people’s lives is being taken off the air so that CBS can run reruns of NCIS LOs Angeles. There is somethin g very wrong about that.!!!!

  25. Tears filled my eyes, reading that. It is amazing what a show can do. It is unfortunate the show was cancelled, with only a few episodes aired it has made a big impact on how people view organ donation. God bless all those people who help others in their time of despair.

  26. Thank you for posting Tiffany and Thank you to Tenaya for such a lovely tribute to the invaluable service Three Rivers and Alex was providing! I am sure many lives have been saved and will continue to be saved because of the show. My sincerest hope is that Alex and all the Three Rivers family can take great pride and joy in reading a piece like this. I also hope CBS gets the negative press they deserve over the cancellation of the show!

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