Heart transplants: Identity disruption, bodily integrity and interconnectedness

Mauthner, Oliver E. and De Luca, Enza and Poole, Jennifer M. and Abbey, Susan E. and Shildrick, Margrit and Gewarges, Mena and Ross, Heather J.. (2015) Heart transplants: Identity disruption, bodily integrity and interconnectedness. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, 19 (6). pp. 578-594.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/59781/

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Of heart transplant recipients, 30 per cent report ongoing or episodic emotional issues post-transplant, which are not attributable to medications or pathophysiological changes. To this end, our team theorized that cardiac transplantation introduces pressing new questions about how patients incorporate a transplanted heart into their sense of self and how this impacts their identity. The work of Merleau-Ponty provided the theoretical underpinning for this project as it rationalizes how corporeal changes affect one's self and offer an innovative framework to access these complex aspects of living with a transplanted heart. We used visual methodology and recorded 25 semi-structured interviews videographically. Both visual and verbal data were analyzed at the same time in an iterative process. The most common theme was that participants expressed a disruption to their own identity and bodily integrity. Additionally, participants reported interconnectedness with the donor, even when the transplanted heart was perceived as an intruder or stranger. Finally, transplant recipients were very vivid in their descriptions and speculation of how they imagined the donor. Receiving an anonymous donor organ from a stranger often leaves the recipient with questions about who they themselves are now. Our study provides a nuanced understanding of heart transplant recipients' embodied experiences of self and identity. Insights gained are valuable to educate transplant professionals to develop new supportive interventions both pre- and post-transplant, and to improve the process of informed consent. Ultimately, such insights could be used to enable heart transplant recipients to incorporate the graft optimally over time, easing distress and improving recovery.
Faculties and Departments:03 Faculty of Medicine > Departement Public Health > Institut für Pflegewissenschaft
UniBasel Contributors:Mauthner, Oliver
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Sage Publications
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:01 Oct 2018 17:21
Deposited On:01 Oct 2018 17:21

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