A family affair

Domesticating Organ Transplant: Familial Sacrifice and National Aspiration in Mexico
Megan Crowley-Matoka
2016, Duke University Press
316 pages, plates, paperback

UNUSUAL and unorthodox, this book nonetheless offers some fascinating insights into the dynamics of kidney transplantation in Mexico that combine medical history and anthropology. The author has conducted a detailed ethnographic study in Guadalajara of the circumstances surrounding kidney donations and transplants, coming up with some surprising insights about the notions that govern this practice – from the ethical to the nationalistic. It turns out that organ transplantation in Mexico is overwhelmingly a family affair where donors are invariably relatives of recipients, yet a procedure that is performed in state-run hospitals: domestication of this kind under state sponsorship makes this both a private matter within the home but also a proud product of the nation. Based on extensive fieldwork with patients, Crowley-Matoka offers a fascinating insight into how notions about motherhood, miracles and mestizos shape the ways in which lives are transformed by transplantation, and how the social and familial consequences reverberate for many years thereafter. – GO’T