Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 169–192

Giving and Getting: Altruism and Exchange in Transplantation

  • Mary Ann Lamanna

DOI: 10.1023/A:1025637702288

Cite this article as:
Lamanna, M.A. Journal of Medical Humanities (1997) 18: 169. doi:10.1023/A:1025637702288


In the study of organ and tissue transplantation, the focus tends to be on donation. But where there is “giving,” there is also “getting:” receiving help. Altruism, helping behavior, and the exchange of benefits have received extensive attention from social psychological researchers. The gift exchange described by anthropologist Marcel Mauss provides a framework for reviewing this social psychological research on altruism and exchange and applying it to transplantation. An overall conclusion is that altruistic donation is not so ethically or clinically problematic, while receiving help has a complex psychosocial context that needs to be acknowledged and given more attention.

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Ann Lamanna
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of Nebraska at OmahaOmaha