Domesticating Organ Transplant: Familial Sacrifice and National Aspiration in Mexico
Cadaveric Organ Donation, Biounavailability, and Slippery States
This chapter turns from the abundant bioavailability of living donors in Mexico to explore the relative biounavailability of brain dead donors, interrogating both the conditions and consequences of this scarcity of cadaveric organs in terms of an all-too-familiar politics of blame. Beneath easy indictments of “superstitious ignorance” and “family refusals” as the barriers holding back further flourishing of the transplant endeavor lies a much more unruly story that this chapter tracks at close range. This is a story about the situated difficulties of materializing brain death both as a slippery state, rife with conceptual ambiguities and practical difficulties, and in a slippery State, where institutional and interpersonal trust may be hard to come by. If the last chapter told a gendered story of national pride in the bioavailability of living donors, here the story shifts to one more focused on issues of class, religiosity, and national shame in the biounavailability of cadaveric organ donors. And, as this chapter argues, in public discourse rendering the local biounavailability of cadaveric donors merely a matter of family and culture—rather than of conceptual ambiguity, resource limitations, and political corruption—the problem of biounavailability too was effectively tamed, indeed domesticated.