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Three Rivers

Season 1 Episode 7

The Luckiest Man

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Nov 15, 2009 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
73 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Victor, a car crash victim insists he wants to be taken off the life support machine so that he can help others with his organs. A young man, Michael needs a lung transplant but his responsibilities prevent him from being admitted. Barbara is visiting Three Rivers to attend their annual Donor/Recipient Celebration and collapses.moreless

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  • Fabulously heart wrenching episode with Mandy Patinkin at the top of his acting game!

    I love this show and this episode shows how conflicting it can be for Doctor's who procure organs and operate on transplant patients. Mandy Patinkin plays a patient, Victor, who is suffering ALS also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Incurable and fatal. As an organ donor I completely understand the dilemma that some family members have when the finality of a life hits home. The fact that this show does not just concentrate on one story line at a time adds to it's appeal. I cried in this episode, as I do in almost every episode. Very thought provoking series.moreless
  • A man with ALS is fighting a losing battle and decides to go off the machines and end his life, donating his organs to those in need. His daughter and Andy fight the process and bring up the whole dying with dignity argument.moreless

    A wonderful performance by Mandy Patinkin playing Victor Stone the man with ALS highlights this episode. Whether you agree with the premise or not, this is truly a gripping drama that is played out. My father died from a Christopher Reeve type accident eventually succumbing to pneumonia after a very rough nine months. Personally I understand what it means to die with dignity.

    As far as the story goes, they complicated an already complicated story by surrounding this one with a number of other people fighting the noble fight. Specifically a young 22 year old man in need of a new lung or lungs who is the sole provider for his three younger siblings. Also Kuol who is the original reason Victor decides to donate his heart. Kuol's vibrant and positive attitude impressed Victor to the point where he felt he had another option other than living or dying. A very tough subject dealt with in a very interesting way. I'm not sure we really saw how a fight like this would be handled, but the representation was very interesting non the less. This show has turned itself around in the last few episodes. I think it has found itself a nitch. Unfortunately a little too late in the game I'm afraid. Thanks for reading...moreless
  • This is a worrisome episode as it glorifies euthanasia.

    This episode has as its central point the glorification of euthanasia. Since we are living in a time when our government is pressing for health reforms which some say will include "death panels," one wonders whether TV art is being used to manipulate the public into the acceptance of suicide, eventually ending in capitulation to government rule over who is treated or sentenced to death.

    There are those who will say my assessment is far fetched. I refer them to England where this is the current state of affairs. Please see: http://sz0173.wc.mail.comcast.net/zimbra/mail

    Leslie Burke wants to live; the National Health Service has a second opinion. London (Snip) ...a 45-year-old Englishman, Leslie Burke ... has a progressive neurological disease that may one day deprive him of the ability to swallow. If that happens, Burke wants to receive food and water through a tube. Knowing that Britain's National Health Service (NHS) rations care, Burke sued to ensure that he will not be forced to endure death by dehydration against his wishes.. it turns out, whether Burke lives or dies by dehydration may not be up to him. According to National Health Service treatment guidelines, doctors, rather than patients or their families, have the final say about providing or withholding care.

    Burke won his case at the trial court level ... But the General Medical Council, the medical licensing authority, appealed, joined by the British government... (and the ruling went against him)

    ... the secretary of state for health argued before the Court of Appeal that while patients have the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment, they don't have a corresponding right to receive it. Even though the Burke case does not involve high tech medical procedures--he is not asking for a respirator or kidney dialysis, after all--the government claims that the trial court's ruling undermines the authority of doctors to make the "clinical judgment" about whether a patient's "treatment would be of benefit," based at least in part on the question of "the resources which are available." The right of doctors to exercise such control is "absolutely fundamental to the day-to-day functioning of the NHS." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    For those who say this could never happen in America, let me direct you to The Death Book for Veterans:


    which encourages U.S. veterans to decide that life is not worth living.

    The Death Book for Veterans --



    Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, "Your Life, Your Choices." It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use.Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated "Your Life, Your Choices."

    Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.

    "Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."

    The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to "shake the blues." There is a section which provocatively asks, "Have you ever heard anyone say, 'If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug'?" There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as "I can no longer contribute to my family's well being," "I am a severe financial burden on my family" and that the vet's situation "causes severe emotional burden for my family." (Snip)

    For balance, I strongly suggest that Three Rivers portray Leslie Burke's story with all of the heartache such government interference would inflict. As an alternative production, consider showing a veteran being "pushed" into choosing death.moreless
  • Victor,a car crash victim insists he wants to be taken off the life support machine so that he can help others with his organs, while Andy and Sophia do all they can to save him.moreless

    This was definitely one of the most powerful and thought-provoking episodes I've ever seen on any TV show. Euthanasia (because this is really what it was about) is one of those subjects that primetime TV normally stays away from probably because it is too controversial and volatile so I'm impressed that CBS chose to tackle it head on.

    One thing that really surprised me is how the transplant department's Ethics Committee was so overwhelmingly in favour of allowing Victor to end his own life in order to donate his organs. Isn't that some form of euthanasia that was performed by the doctors, even if Victor did give his consent? It's not like he was dead or even brain dead... I still think the committee made the right decision but that's only because my views on the subject are very liberal and I think that Victor had the right to decide how he didn't want to live his life as a prisoner of his own body. But that's not the way the justice system sees it. Also, I'm no specialist in the way the transplant system works but since there are waiting lists, it really didn't make sense to me that Victor was the one who got to decide to whom he was giving some of his organs. And what were the chances that those people were an exact match? And finally, I want to applaud Mandy Patinkin's performance in the role of Victor, who was a patient suffering from ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's disease. I had only seen Mr. Patinkin in two other roles before that and they were both very similar (on Dead Like Me and Criminal Minds) so it was nice to see the depth of his acting abilities. He was just superb and I really hope he gets nominated for an Emmy next year. What a heart-wrenching performance...moreless
  • Mandy Patinkin great performance

    The show is very real to me. I have pulmonary hypertension like the older brother in the show. I go through many fo the same emotions. Sometimes I feel like I'm watching myself in the show. I thought Mandy Patinkin was fantastic in the show. He was so good that I was wondering if he's not suffering from some illness in real life.

    I was just wondering how many episodes of the show they can write about organ donors and transplant patients. I really like Alex O'Loughlin as an actor. I think it's just a matter of time before he gets a hit show.moreless
Mandy Patinkin

Mandy Patinkin

Victor Stone

Guest Star

Nicholas Braun

Nicholas Braun

Michael Downing

Guest Star

Joelle Carter

Joelle Carter

Barbara Harris

Guest Star

Owiso Odera

Owiso Odera

Kuol Adebe Ketebo

Recurring Role

Puja Mohindra

Puja Mohindra


Recurring Role

Devika Parikh

Devika Parikh

Nurse Rehka

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Ryan refers to "The Krebs Citric Acid Cycle", this is referencing a cycle that plays an important part in the cell metabolism. However, it is never called "The Krebs Citric Acid Cycle". It is commonly called the Krebs Cycle, the Citric Acid Cycle, the TCA (Tricarboxylic Acid) Cycle, or very rarely the Szent-Györgyi-Krebs Cycle.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • (Kuol comes racing in with a cart)
      Andy: Whoa, slow down, Kuol. That's a Ventricular Assist Device, not a rocket packet.
      Kuol: So, you say. I have not felt my oats in this way since I was a child playing football in a refugee camp.

    • Kuol: In order for me to get a new heart, I knew a person had to die. I never suspected one would choose to on my behalf.

    • Andy: I fought for your life and so did she. And I can not get behind you throwing it away.
      Victor: Death always wins; it's just a matter of when or how.

    • Andy: How do you like Dr. Williams?
      Kuol: Why do you ask?
      Andy: Well, if you prefer the great Dr. Yablonski, he's available.
      Kuol: Ohhhhh, yes!

    • Victor: Do you ever think... about dying?
      Kuol: I once feared it. Now? I feel if I were to die tomorrow or if I were to get a new heart and live for a hundred years, I would have lived a beautiful life.

    • Victor: Doesn't the great Dr. Yablonski ever sleep?
      Andy: You've obviously met Kuol.
      Victor: Yes, I have.
      Andy: Mm, um.
      Victor: You believe in fate, Doc?
      Andy: No, I don't.
      Victor: Neither did I. Maybe it's the cold breath on my neck. But I feel a greater hand moving things.
      Andy: I don't know, it all seems pretty random to me.
      Victor: Fate kept me alive... brought me to a transplant hospital... introduced me to Kuol.
      Andy: To what end?
      Victor: I thought I had two options. To fight... or to die. Now I see I have three. I want to terminate life support. I want to donate my heart to Kuol.

    • Victor: I'm taking back control while I still can, while something good can come out of it. I'm donating my heart to a great young man.
      Laura: You heart is going nowhere. Don't say that. I am not going to let you commit suicide.
      Victor: There's a difference between committing suicide... and choosing to die... with whatever dignity... I have left. Cookie, I am ready.
      Laura: Well... I'm not.

    • Dr. Jordan: Are you playing God now?
      Andy: Okay. You know what? All I know is that I have opened up a lot of chests... and I've never seen God. I've never seen a soul. I've never seen an afterlife. So until you can show me... that what's on the other side of that door is better than what we have here, then I'm not sending anyone through it.

  • NOTES (1)