Being Worthy of Transplant, Embodying Transplant’s Worth
Moving from the donors who provide organs to the patients who need them, this chapter explores how certain patients came to be deemed worthy of transplantation—and others did not—in ways that embodied ideas about the worth of the transplant enterprise itself. The chapter attends first to the contingent interpellative processes required simply to identify bodily dis-ease as kidney disease, kidney disease as treatable, and transplantation as both attainable and desirable in Mexico. The footsteps of patients are then followed at close range through the capillary processes that lead (for some) to becoming a candidate for kidney transplantation. Attending to the cumulative effects of the small, everyday moments in the hospital hallway and clinic exam room by which individual patients came to matter in culturally resonant terms as “agile,” “ungainly,” or “worth agitating (for),” this chapter also foregrounds the representational powers and pressures exerted by transplant’s iconic status. Such moments produced transplantation as a particular kind of clinical and moral enterprise—for decisions about who should (and should not) be transplanted were also, critically, decisions about what transplant itself should be. And in turn, this chapter reveals how transplant was consequentially caught up in debates about what larger institutions—medicine, the family, the nation—are, and should be.