Domesticating Organ Transplant: Familial Sacrifice and National Aspiration in Mexico
The Unsung Story of Posttransplant Life
Picking up the story of posttransplant life, this chapter resists the romance of transplantation’s standard salvationary narrative as the iconic “gift of life”—a narrative that reaches its climax at the moment of receiving the transplant, with little attention to what comes next. Foregrounding this unsung story, the chapter tracks the lived experiences of transplant patients in Mexico over the long term through three key phases: coming to desire a transplant, finally receiving one, and learning to live as a transplanted person over time, attending to the culturally resonant desires and expectations cultivated in the process. What emerge are the complex challenges of posttransplant life for many patients in Mexico, explored in terms of the often liminal forms of health, productivity, and reproductivity they experienced. Standing in painful contrast to the promises and hopes held out to them, such challenges produced what many patients experienced as a kind of persistent patienthood, a state-of-being much more contingent than the familiar happily-ever-after story of transplantation. The elision of this more complex and uneasy lived reality in the iconic story line of transplantation, this chapter argues, can be seen as another form of strategic simplification—indeed a domestication—of the transplant enterprise itself.