The Transliminal Self: The Ebb and Flow of the Kidney Transplant Experience

Qual Health Res. 2018 Mar;28(4):561-571. doi: 10.1177/1049732317743937. Epub 2017 Dec 7.


For people with kidney disease, transplantation is considered a better treatment option than dialysis. A kidney transplant does not, however, ensure an illness-free existence. Compared with the wealth of literature produced from a biomedical perspective, there is little qualitative research focused on the young adult transplant experience. This article presents the findings of a phenomenological study exploring young adults' kidney transplant experiences. Using a qualitative phenomenological approach, semidirected interviews were conducted with five people. Analysis of the transcribed interviews revealed that these individuals' kidney transplant experiences were paradoxical in nature: Participants described an existence between sickness and health, self and other, life and death. Consequently, liminality was identified as one of the experience's key elements and used together with the concept of rites of passage in its analysis. To incorporate these experiences, the term transliminal self is proposed.

Keywords: Canada; dialysis; kidney disease; liminality; narrative analysis; nephrology social work; phenomenology; qualitative research; rites of passage; transition; transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dialysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Kidney Transplantation / psychology*
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Concept
  • Young Adult