Transplantation as an abstract good: practising deliberate ignorance in deceased organ donation in Denmark

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

This article investigates valuations of organ transfers that are currently seen as legitimising increasingly aggressive procurement methods in Denmark. Based on interviews with registered donors and the intensive care unit staff responsible for managing organ donor patients we identify three types of valuation: the needs of recipients, respect for donors' autonomy and support of donors' relatives in their grieving process. Sometimes these modes of valuation conflict with each other, and we show how our informants then respond with a form of deliberate ignorance. We suggest that deliberate ignorance has a more general salience in the organ transplant field by way of facilitating a perception of organ transplantation as an abstract moral good rather than a specific good for specific people. Furthermore, we suggest that multiple forms of ignorance sustain each other: a desire for ignorance with respect to the prioritisation of recipients sustains pressure for more organs; this pressure necessitates more aggressive measures in organ procurement and these measures increase the need for ignorance in relation to the actual procedures as well as the actual recipients. These attempts to avoid knowledge are in remarkable contrast to the otherwise widespread policy emphasis on education and information in this medical domain.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)578-593
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

ID: 140154804