People's feelings and ideas about receiving transplants of different origins - questions of life and death, identity, and nature's border


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Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore the public's feelings and ideas with regard to receiving transplants of different origins. Sixty-nine individuals with varying sociodemographic background, selected from samples who had responded to a questionnaire on receiving and donating organs, were interviewed in-depth. A wide variety of reactions was displayed. The feelings and ideas about receiving organs were summarized in ten categories: 1) the emergency situation; 2) the functioning of the transplant; 3) the influence of transplants on personality, behaviour, and appearance; 4) the influence of transplants on body image; 5) disgust; 6) cannibalism; 7) trespassing nature's border; 8) tradition; 9) ethical considerations; and 10) the debt of gratitude. Most individuals were willing to accept at least one organ. Animal organs were the least preferred. The hierarchy of organ preferences - with organs from a relative at the top and animal organs at the bottom - was explained in terms of rational, magical, and analogy thinking. Finally, the consequences for the encounter between health care personnel and transplantation candidates were briefly discussed.

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