Orchestrating an Exceptional Death: Donor Family Experiences and Organ Donation in Denmark

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch


This Ph.D. thesis explores the experiences of Danish donor families and
the context of organ donation in Denmark. Based on comprehensive
ethnographic studies at Danish hospitals and interviews with health
care professionals and donor families, readers are invited on a journey
into the complex processes of facing brain death and deciding about
organ donation.
This study suggests that organ donation should be understood as
a ‘strange figure’ challenging traditions and attitudes regarding the
boundaries between life and death and the practices surrounding dead
human bodies. Simultaneously, organ donation can be comforting and
furthermore enable some families to make sense of a sudden tragic death.
Throughout the thesis, the concept of ‘orchestration’ serves as the overall
theoretical framework to understand how families, hospital staff and,
on a larger scale, Danish society attempt to perform, reinterpret and
translate death and organ donation into something culturally acceptable
and sense making.
With chapters focusing analytically on the performance of trust, the
transformative practices of hope, the aesthetization of ambiguous bodies,
the sociality of exchangeable organs and the organ donation stories,
the complexity of the donor family experiences and organ donation in
Denmark is unfolded.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKbh.
PublisherInstitut for Antropologi
ISBN (Print)9788771131154
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 2011
SeriesPh.D. Series

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