Desperately seeking "normal": the promise and perils of living with kidney transplantation

Soc Sci Med. 2005 Aug;61(4):821-31. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.08.043. Epub 2004 Nov 14.


Organ transplantation offers a dramatic example of the promises for health held out by biomedicine-and thus, a productive vantage point from which to interrogate those promises. Drawing on ethnographic research on kidney transplantation in Guadalajara, Mexico, this article examines the version of "health" offered to patients through transplantation. The paper explores patients' transplant trajectories as they move from learning to desire a transplant to actually receiving one and living with it over the long term, all within particular structuring sociocultural and political economic conditions. The article analyzes how transplanted patients are forced to come to terms with the contingent states of "health" and "normality" wrought by transplantation as they carve out an existence in the persistently liminal spaces between the roles of "sick" and "healthy," dependent patient and fully contributing family member.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Kidney Transplantation / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*