Hollywood Comes Knocking: Dr. Mehmet Oz of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is Medical Expert for Denzel Washington Film John Q

Feb 15, 2002


Dr. Mehmet Oz, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital was the medical director of the upcoming film John Q. As the heart transplant consultant, Dr. Oz reviewed the script and oversaw the production of several scenes that involved surgery, ensuring that they were medically accurate. Dr. Oz, whose hands performed some of the scenes, also demonstrated cardiac surgery techniques to the actors and film crew.

While the movie offers a realistic portrayal of surgery, the depiction of the healthcare system is an extreme one. "However the shortage of organ donation remains," says Dr. Oz. "In addition, as a nation, we need to have a public discussion about how we will pay for effective, but expensive technologies. This debate will intensify with innovative solutions like mechanical hearts."

According to the New York Organ Donor Network, nearly 80,000 people are currently awaiting organ transplantation in the United States, and more than 2,500 of them are children. Approximately 250 of these children await heart transplantation. Nationwide, nearly 1,600 children received organ transplants in 2001, and approximately 270 of them received new hearts. "We know that we can save more lives if we have more people willing to make a commitment to organ donation. As it stands now, 80,000 patients are dependent on the generosity of a few thousand willing donors and families," says Dr. Oz.

At Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, 106 adults and children received heart transplants last year. "Since the start of our program 25 years ago, we have performed approximately 1400 heart transplants," says Dr. Donna Mancini, Medical Director, Cardiac Transplant Program. "Our transplant program advocates for the patient and works within the system to explore every alternative to enable patients to receive appropriate care."

For more information on how to become an organ and tissue donor, call 1-800-GIFT-4-NY.