Strange Harvest - Hao Sijia Hao Anthro 101 Section 030 GSI...

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Hao Sijia Hao Anthro 101 – Section 030 GSI Anna Genina 17 November 2010 Naturalization of Organ Transplant Medical technology has advanced in spectacular ways since the first successful organ transplant in December of 1954 (Murray 2004). Today in the modernized world, we are capable of transplanting livers, lungs, corneas, and hearts, along with a whole host of other organs and tissues. However, the process of attaining reusable body parts is arduous and emotionally- charged for all parties involved. Because life-saving organs must be harvested from other people, donor recipients are often wracked with overwhelming guilt and distress accepting their new organs, a mentality known as the “burden of the gift” (Sharp 2006: 108). They feel that others had to sacrifice their lives in order for themselves to live. Although the organ transplanting procedures have now been in practice for over half of a century, the operations have yet to become normalized because of the unique nature of the entire procedure. Many people have not yet settled with the idea of giving away their kin’s organs, so the supply of organs always falls dramatically short of the demand for them (Sharp 2006:28). To make the donation process seem more natural and in hopes of increasing organ supply, many methods are employed to remove the intimate, human, emotional aspect of organ transplant. Dehumanization of the donor, connecting transplanting organs with nature, and keeping donations anonymous are only a few of the tactics involved. Negating the emotional element of organ donation turns it into a strictly professional medical procedure. Donors are dehumanized in a variety of ways by a variety of people. If successful, it can help organ recipients feel that accepting another’s organ is not accepting a part of a human being, but a lifeless machine that has no soul or character. The Organ Procurement Organization,
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Hao known as the OPO, employs agents who make a career out of convincing donor kin to donate their loved ones’ organs. In order to successfully detach themselves emotionally from the dying process, OPO counselors must objectify people whose organs they are trying to obtain; this way, they are unaffected by any one individual’s death and can better perform their job. To aid in this process, some OPO directors set quotas for their agents to fulfill per month (Sharp 2006:73). Having a rigid number of organs they must procure in a given month pressurizes OPO counselors to quantify organs and the patients they belong to as mere a number; donors transform from humans into goals in OPO counselors’ occupational agenda. Language selection also aids in the dehumanization process. The doctors who harvest a brain-dead victim’s organs no longer refer to the person by name but as a “corpse” or “neomort” (Sharp 2006:75); nurses who tend to the victims no longer think of them as “patients” but as “living cadavers” (Sharp 2006:78). The medical experts are careful not to refer to the ventilator
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This note was uploaded on 01/25/2012 for the course ENGLISH 125 taught by Professor Decourcy during the Fall '09 term at University of Michigan.

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Strange Harvest - Hao Sijia Hao Anthro 101 Section 030 GSI...

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