Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Position Pieces

Vol 7 No 2: September issue

Living with transplant: Never quite beyond illness

  • Laura L. Heinemann
December 24, 2018
June 16, 2020


Organ transplantation is often held to epitomize the power and promise of biomedicine. Yet life after transplant does not so clearly mark an ‘after’ to illness, and instead requires close monitoring and treating for organ rejection, graft failure, or the side effects of medication regimens. Such medical domains are counterbalanced, in turn, by relations of kinship, friendship, home and work life. In this Position Piece, I call for attention to the interconnected tensions among these domains, focusing on one illustrative case example: that of Janet, a three-time kidney recipient. By detailing Janet’s lifelong imbrication of daily life with vulnerability and biomedical intervention, I delineate the mismatch between popular imaginings of transplant as ‘cure’ and the realities of living a life that is never quite beyond illness.

Most read articles by the same author(s)