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


Vol 9 No 3: September issue

Swan Song: An Account of Organ Donation after Circulatory Death

June 15, 2021
September 23, 2022


This is an account of a procedure of organ donation after circulatory death (DCD) that took place in July 2019 in a French hospital. Based on an ethnography in the neuro intensive care unit (neuro-ICU) of this hospital, I describe the impressions that DCD leaves on those taking part in it, the surprise effects it may produce, and the questions that it poses about what remains alive in a person on the brink of imminent death. This account is also that of a medical and technical complication, the advent of which makes it possible to document how organ donation protocols force doctors to clarify the dividing line between life and death.