Transplant anxieties : discourses about bone marrow

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This minor dissertation examines the various discourses in the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) network in South Africa. The organisations in the network which were observed using participant observation were the South African Bone Marrow Registry and the Sunflower Fund to complement this, the researcher interviewed staff members at these organisations as well as at a public hospital haematology unit in the Cape Town area that conducts BMT. Additionally patients, donors, and their family members were interviewed. Some media related to the BMT network was also analysed. Informed heavily by Troy Duster's work on genetic and social feedback loops, it was found that the discourses reflect a complex interweaving of biological materiality, ethnicity, culture, mortality, health resource rationing, South African nationhood, and the limits of bodily integrity. There is extensive discussion of how the BMT discourses demonstrate the necessity of engagement with several issues: the hybridity of expert and lay intercultural communication, health inequalities, human rights, and the prioritisation of first and third world medicine, the meanings of race, culture, ethnicity, and nationhood in a diverse South Africa, conceptions of donor shortage, and the imperative of saving lives through medical practise.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 89-94).