Domesticating Organ Transplant: Familial Sacrifice and National Aspiration in Mexico
Scientists, Saints, and Monsters in Transplant Medicine
This chapter takes up a second set of analytic icons at work in the anthropology of transplant, drawing inspiration from the provocative figure of El Niño Doctor de los Enfermos (Baby Jesus, Doctor of the Sick) to explore the dense intermingling of notions of the sacred and the profane, science and the supernatural, insiders and outsiders in how the work of transplant proceeded in Mexico, as well as in how it was perceived. Both life-giving and death-ridden, transplant medicine seems always to invite awe and horror in nearly equal measure, evoking a deep moral duality that recalls the notion of the icon in its religious form, as both saintly image and possible false god. Examining at close range some of the key stories and images by which transplant professionals wrought meaning from transplantation not only for patients, families, and the wider public but for themselves as well, this chapter argues that the iconic figures of scientist, saint, and monster persistently haunt not only the professionals who enact transplantation, but those of us who study them. Ultimately raised by this and the previous chapter are a set of broader conceptual questions regarding not only how transplant has come to matter in anthropology but how, conversely, anthropology itself comes to matter in particular ways through its engagement with the transplant endeavor.