Plus ça change: Renée Fox and the Sociology of Organ Replacement Therapy

Joel E. Frader, Charles L. Bosk

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Abstract

Rereading Renée C. Fox's “A Sociological Perspective on Organ Transplantation and Hemodialysis,” published in 1970, one is likely to be struck more by continuity than by change. The most pressing of the social, policy, and ethical concerns that Fox raised remain problematic fifty years later. We still struggle with scientific and clinical uncertainty, with the boundary between experimentation and therapy, and with the cost of organ replacement therapies and disparities in how they are allocated. We still have an imperfect understanding of transplant immune responses. We still debate when a potential donor “actually” dies, and we still seem to think better empirical criteria could harmonize the diverse religious, cultural, and socioeconomic values of patients, providers, third-party payers, and policy-makers. Organ transplantation was for Fox both a particular case unfolding in time and an entryway for discussing the difficult moral questions presented by many new medical technologies in a context of high demand and limited resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-7
Number of pages2
JournalHastings Center Report
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

Keywords

  • determination of death
  • human values
  • organ transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy

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