Body and Society 21 (3):20-41 (2015)

The field of human organ transplantation, and most particularly that of heart transplantation where the donor is always deceased, is one in which the rhetoric of hope leaves little room for any exploration or understanding of the more negative emotions and affects that recipients may experience. Where a donated heart is commonly referred to as the ‘gift of life’, both in lay discourse and by those engaged in transplantation procedures, how does this imbricate with the alternative clinical term of a ‘graft’? For recipients of donor organs, the experience of living on in the face of otherwise certain death is fraught with complex emotions, not only about the self and the now dead other, but the persistence of the other within the self. In contrast to our expectations of the feel-good narrative of the gift of life, recipients are often significantly troubled by the aftermath of the procedure, which may fundamentally challenge notions of personal identity, as well as having deep implications for our understanding of the relation between death and ‘staying alive’. Drawing on recent research into heart transplantation, I shall theorise the field through a reflection – drawing on both Mauss and Derrida – on the meaning of the gift, before moving on to consider whether a Deleuzian approach to both the assemblage and the ‘event’ of death might offer a more productive framework.
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DOI 10.1177/1357034x15585886
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References found in this work BETA

Of Hospitality.Jacques Derrida - 2000 - Stanford University Press.
The Logic of Sense.G. Deleuze - 2000 - Filosoficky Casopis 48 (5):799-808.

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