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'Grey's Anatomy': The truth of the (medical) matter

October 23, 2008 | 10:01 pm

Tonight’s episode of "Grey’s Anatomy" was chock-full o’ twists: Alex kissed Izzie. Christina crossed paths again with the charismatic Army doc. And Callie had sex with Erica — and Mark! Yet somehow, in the midst of all that lusty madness, the Seattle Gracers still managed to pull off one of their biggest surgical coups yet: domino kidney transplants, which involved 12 patients, six kidneys and one “Alias” alum (go, Carl Lumbly!). But perhaps the bigger curveball is that the incredible medical procedure wasn’t simply dreamed up by "Grey's" writers for dramatic purposes. Earlier this year, surgeons at Johns Hopkins actually did perform what is believed to be the first successful six-way donor kidney swap. The surgeries took 10 hours, six operating rooms and, says Elizabeth Klaviter, "Grey’s" director of medical research, 100 physicians. (Johns Hopkins pioneered domino kidney transplants, though with fewer patients, several years ago.) “The idea has been pretty interesting to us for quite some time,” says Klaviter, who monitors the show’s medical accuracy and has been with "Grey’s" since Season 1. “It’s new and cutting-edge and really cool.”

Less cool: Meredith’s botched assist. (She — gasp! — dropped one of the kidneys, though ultimately it was saved and transplanted.) According to Klaviter, even that story point was accurate. Pretty much. “Organs don’t get dropped very often,” she allows, “but if you’re in a situation where there’s a life depending on that organ and there’s not another one readily available, there isn’t a lot of choice [other than to] use it. They’d just clean it first.”

— Shawna Malcom

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