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Sunday, October 16, 2016

General Hospital - The Heart of the Jones Family

It's the continuation of Soap Suds Sunday where all this month we take a took at some of the most talked about soap storylines that have happened over the years.  Some raised awareness for social issues, some were storylines that no other show tackled.  And some storylines defied reality.

Trust me, we'll get to those stories the closer we get to Halloween.

For now, let's get on with today's featured soap...and storyline.

Two weeks ago, we talked about the subject of racism with a classic storyline from "As The World Turns".  Last week, we looked at the soap opera "The City", which featured one of the first transsexual characters to appear on an American soap.

This week, we're going to be raising awareness about organ donation.  And how one soap opera came up with a storyline that caused tears and heartbreak for millions of viewers.

First, let me ask the many of you out there are organ donors?  Let's see a show of hands.  I'm currently raising mine.

Yes, I made the decision to become an organ donor when I was sixteen years old.  I'm all about the idea of organ donation because it saves lives.  And sadly, organ donor lists get longer and longer because there aren't enough organs to meet the demand.  Many people die waiting for the very organs that can save their lives.  I think that was part of the motivation behind my decision to become an organ donor.

And one soap screened a series of episodes in May 1994 that I am sure caused thousands of people to sign up to be on the donor list.

As of 2016, "General Hospital" is the longest running soap opera that is currently on the air.  Since April 1963, millions of people have tuned in to watch the escapades of the citizens of fictional Port Charles, New York.

And while the main setting of the soap opera is the hospital in town, that's not to say that the show is purely a medical drama.  There have been dozens of storylines that have gripped the series.  Some storylines have been captivating, such as Robin and Stone's relationship in which AIDS took center stage.  And some storylines have been completely unbelievable, like the one where the main villain tried to put the entire city of Port Charles underneath a permanent frost. 

And then there was Luke and Laura's wedding - the television event that took place thirty-five years ago and remains the most watched episode of a daytime drama in history.

And in May 1994, the organ donation storyline that everyone was talking about first screened. 

First, a little background.  In October 1986, a little girl was born to Tania Roskov and Tony Jones.  The little girl was named Barbara Jean Jones, but everybody close to her called her "B.J.".  And little B.J. was the pride and joy of the Jones family.  The little girl was named after Barbara Jean "Bobbie" Spencer, who helped deliver the baby during a blackout.  As fate would have it, B.J.'s mother was killed in a car accident not long after B.J.'s birth, and Bobbie would later fall in love and marry Tony, making her B.J.'s stepmother.  Bobbie later legally adopted the little girl as her own.

Some time after B.J.'s birth, Tony's brother Frisco and his wife Felicia had their own child - a little girl of their own whom they named Mariah Maximilliana Jones.  But since that was a mouthful to pronounce, they simply referred to her as Maxie.  Maxie and B.J. became extremely close, and their bond as cousins was firmly cemented.  In fact, Maxie became extremely close to Tony and Bobbie as a result, since Maxie's dad was often out of the picture due to his job.

Unfortunately, Maxie had health problems very early on in her life.  And in 1994, the Jones family was given the news that Maxie's heart was failing her and that she would eventually require a heart transplant in order to keep her alive.  It was a devastating blow to the family, and with the donor list being very long for heart donations, the best thing the family could do was to keep her alive for as long as Maxie continued to fight until a new heart could be found for her.

Tragically, that heart would come at the cost of a person who was very close to Maxie.

On one May day in 1994, B.J. was on her way to school, but she never made it.  The school bus that she was riding in had an accident on the way, and she was seriously injured.  Tony and Bobbie had hoped that B.J. would be all right, as they were already worried about Maxie.  But sadly, the little girl had severe brain damage to the point that she was considered brain-dead.  And Tony and Bobbie made the heartbreaking decision to take their daughter off of life-support on May 18, 1994.  B.J. was just seven years old.

Now, here's where a tragedy for one branch of the Jones family turned into relief for another.  As it turned out, B.J.'s heart was considered a perfect match for the ailing Maxie, and Bobbie and Tony made the gut-wrenching decision to donate B.J.'s heart to Maxie so that Maxie's life would be spared.

It certainly was a week filled with raw emotion as Tony and Bobbie came to grips with saying goodbye to their beloved Barbara Jean, and Frisco and Felicia were overjoyed that their own child was being given a second chance because of B.J.

One of the most emotional scenes of that whole story arc was after Maxie went into surgery for the heart transplant, and Tony leaned his head onto Maxie's chest, so that he could listen to his daughter's heart beating inside.  It's definitely tear inducing.  Trust me, it got to me when I watched the clip for this blog entry.  Have a look at that moment below.

So, suffice to say, Maxie made a full recovery, and as of 2016 is a main character on "General Hospital" today.  And while she has had her fair share of trauma and turmoil in her life, Maxie has also had some good moments as well.  And Maxie literally keeps B.J. close to her heart at all times throughout it all.  In fact, when Maxie suffered a setback in 2005 when she suffered a heart attack, she absolutely refused another heart transplant because she was determined to keep B.J.'s heart inside of her for as long as she lived.  To me, that shows that even though B.J. has been gone for over two decades, the love that Maxie had for B.J. never died.

And that storyline still remains one of the show's most memorable ones.