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Friday 19 February 2010

Get Your Facts Right!

I recently made a YouTube video called Shock! Horror! all about newspapers & TV news shows using videos, mainly to sensationalise the news & yes, it was a bit of a rant.
Well, here's another one....

Tonight, my local tv news show did an item which contained facts which i know full well are incorrect.

Without going into too much detail. The story concerned a young girl who had recently had life saving heart surgery & had then needed to use a special machine to keep her alive, while she recovered. Thankfully, the little girl is fine & making a full recovery.

During this news item, they referred to this piece of equipment/machine as if it were a fairly new piece of technology & that this young girl was one of the first to ever use it in the UK & at the hospital concerned, Guys & St Thomas' Hospital in London.

The piece of equipment is an ECMO machine. For the uninitiated, this stands for Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation. The machine is very similar to a heart bypass machine. But, one that can be used for longer periods, allowing the patients heart to rest & recover from the ordeal of surgery.
Just do a Google search for "ECMO" & you get plenty of useful results.
This is one of the best ones: GOSH

ECMO machines have been used in the UK since 1992. They were first used at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London. So, it's hardly new technology is it?

I know what you're thinking. "How does he know so much about this subject"
Well, in 1994 my daughter used an ECMO machine herself & in Guys Hospital too.
In fact, she was the first person to ever use an ECMO machine at Guys Hospital.
The staff at Guys had never used one before & actually had to borrow equipment from other hospitals to build one. Including Great Ormond Street. I remember one doctor coming all the way down from Leicester with some of the equipment & staying to help set it up & make sure that it all worked correctly.
It all seemed a bit of a Heath Robinson affair at the time. But, it worked & it helped save my daughters life.

My daughter was born with her Pulmonary Artery & her Aorta connected to her heart the wrong way round, amongst other issues. This condition is know as Transposition Of The Great Arteries, or TGA & requires major open heart surgery to correct it.
This is exactly the same condition that the young girl in tonights tv news programme had.
Thankfully, like the young girl featured, my daughter has made a full recovery & is now a happy & healthy 15 year old teenager.

OK, so i have had personal experience & so knew about this condition & about the ECMO machine itself. But, it only took me a few clicks of a mouse to find plenty of information about the subject & enough information to know that the facts they used in their news story were incorrect.

In these days of widespread Internet access, i don't think anyone can be excused for not checking their "facts". Especially not a BBC news show.

So, is this another case of lazy journalism? Possibly....

My other theory is that this is could be another effect of getting the viewers to suggest stories for the programme. Something i wrote about in my last blog post: Ask The Audience

I have contacted the news programme & have pointed out their error. I'll let you know if i hear anything back from them.
I will not be holding my breath though.


  1. Hope they get back to you. I'm glad your daughter is doing fine.

  2. Thanks.
    It would be good if they did contact me, as it would be good to be able to put our own story.

  3. That seems like a rather important bit of information to get past their fact checkers, or have all the fact checkers been laid off due to the economy? The BBC can't afford one cheap college intern to do a few google searches?

  4. I agree Ken. It isn't that hard to check facts these days is it?
    I guess that downsizing if happening everywhere?
    I've still not heard anything from them yet. Now, there's a surprise.