People's feelings and ideas about receiving transplants of different origins--questions of life and death, identity, and nature's border

Clin Transplant. 2001 Feb;15(1):19-27. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-0012.2001.150104.x.


The aim of this study was to explore the public's feelings and ideas with regard to receiving transplants of different origins. Sixty-nine individuals with varying sociodemographic background, selected from samples who had responded to a questionnaire on receiving and donating organs, were interviewed in-depth. A wide variety of reactions was displayed. The feelings and ideas about receiving organs were summarized in ten categories: 1) the emergency situation; 2) the functioning of the transplant; 3) the influence of transplants on personality, behaviour, and appearance; 4) the influence of transplants on body image; 5) disgust; 6) cannibalism; 7) trespassing nature's border; 8) tradition; 9) ethical considerations; and 10) the debt of gratitude. Most individuals were willing to accept at least one organ. Animal organs were the least preferred. The hierarchy of organ preferences--with organs from a relative at the top and animal organs at the bottom was explained in terms of rational, magical, and analogy thinking. Finally, the consequences for the encounter between health care personnel and transplantation candidates were briefly discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Blood Donors / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Transplantation / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / psychology