Patterning the geographies of organ transplantation: corporeality, generosity and justice
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Institute of British Geographers / Royal Geographical Society / Wiley-Blackwell
Organ transplantation is now an established treatment for patients with end-stage organ failure, yet there are spatial inequalities in access to this procedure. This paper explores the uneven geographies of kidney transplantation in London, arguing that inequalities in access to organ transplantation are created through interlocking spatialities of corporeal difference, enacted through global movements of populations, national organ transplantation protocols and the internal immunological spaces of the body. The combination of these processes, operating at different scales, has produced a distinctive configuration in the embodiment of risk in relation to kidney transplants, particularly born by London's Black and Asian communities. Two ethical dimensions to this geography of organ transplantation are explored here: the ethical responsiveness to others shaping the generous practices of organ donation, and the medical practices categorizing difference through techniques of blood typing, tissue matching and the spatial organization of organ transplantation. In concluding, I argue both are critical to understanding the links between ethics and justice in the geographies of organ exchange in London. Further, I suggest geography is central to political debate about the exchange of biological material elsewhere, for it is only through tracing the intersection of ethical, corporeal and technological practices in situ that we can fully reflect on questions of justice within the developing bioeconomy.
This is the author's post-print version of an article published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 2006, Vol. 31, Issue 3 pp. 257 – 271 Copyright © 2006 Institute of British Geographers / Royal Geographical Society. The definitive version is available at www3.interscience.wiley.com
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 2006, Vol. 31, Issue 3 pp. 257 - 271