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Position Pieces

Vol 7 No 2 (2020): September 2020

Living with transplant: Never quite beyond illness

  • Laura L. Heinemann
DOI
https://doi.org/10.17157/mat.7.2.693
Submitted
December 24, 2018
Published
June 16, 2020

Abstract

Organ transplantation is often held to epitomize the power and promise of biomedicine. Yet life after transplant does not so clearly mark an ‘after’ to illness, and instead requires close monitoring and treating for organ rejection, graft failure, or the side effects of medication regimens. Such medical domains are counterbalanced, in turn, by relations of kinship, friendship, home and work life. In this Position Piece, I call for attention to the interconnected tensions among these domains, focusing on one illustrative case example: that of Janet, a three-time kidney recipient. By detailing Janet’s lifelong imbrication of daily life with vulnerability and biomedical intervention, I delineate the mismatch between popular imaginings of transplant as ‘cure’ and the realities of living a life that is never quite beyond illness.

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