Bioethics and Organ Transplantation in a Muslim Society: A Study in Culture, Ethnography, and Religion

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Overview

"Dr. Farhat Moazam has written a wonderful book, based on her extraordinary first-hand study.... [S]he is an exceptionally gifted and evocative writer. Her book not only has the attributes of a superb piece of intellectual work, but it has literary artistic merit." —Renee C. Fox, Annenberg Professor Emerita of the Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania

This is an ethnographic study of live, related kidney donation in Pakistan, based on Farhat Moazam’s participant-observer research conducted at a public hospital. Her narrative is both a "thick" description of renal transplant cases and the cultural, ethical, and family conflicts that accompany them, and an object lesson in comparative bioethics.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Steven J. Squires, B.S., M.Ed., M.A.(Saint Louis University)
Description: Dr. Farhat Moazam's book is an ethnography concentrating on the religious and social dimensions involved in kidney transplantation in a Pakistani institute located in Karachi. The central figures in the book are the patients at this institute, their families, and the healthcare professionals providing assistance.
Purpose: Responding to a deficit in the literature regarding the non-medical aspects of living donation, the book seeks to be an accessible resource for a broad group of healthcare professionals, social scientists, ethicists, and laypersons. This multidisciplinary book engages questions surrounding a variety of topics, including decision-making and distributive justice. The author succeeds in her aim of acknowledging and clearly defining non-medical aspects of live organ donation. She is especially skillful in her ability to bring this conversation to a practical level while demonstrating the complexity of ethical dilemmas in this community.
Audience: The book is both eloquent and linguistically adept, introducing the reader to potentially new words and concepts in Urdu. Dr. Moazam is an ideal person to pen this work as she is a practicing pediatric surgeon in Pakistan as well as in the U.S. and has an MA in bioethics from the University of Virginia. This background makes her an excellent mediator between medicine and ethics, as well as between Pakistani and Western culture.
Features: The author explores Pakistani culture and the political, social, and religious dynamics affecting kidney transplantation. Her interviews and observations include significant attention to key healthcare professionals at the institute, potential donors and recipients, and their families. The author emphasizes gatekeeping, micro-allocation strategies, and persuasive techniques, all in the context of kidney donation. Her attention to the local standard of feminism is refreshing. The book would benefit from more explicit links between common Pakistani medical customs and bioethical concepts in Pakistan and the West. For instance, it is not clear if suggesting the discontinuation of dialysis to influence family member organ donation is coercive in Pakistani culture, much less by Western standards.
Assessment: This is a superb and insightful ethnography, with a wide appeal. It is highly useful for those with interests in the fields of healthcare, bioethics, or culture. More specifically, this book closely examines gender roles, feminism, family dynamics, gatekeeping, and persuasion. It is comparable to, and of the same high caliber, as Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997).
American Journal of Transplantation

"Offering a unique contribution to the literature on interpretations of organ donation within Islam, Moazam deftly exposes a diversity of views, sketching the tensions between fatawa which prescribe both duties to save human life, and duties to respect the sacredness of the body... It is this essential humility suffusing Moazam’s narrative which makes her many insights so powerful and so plausible. I am elated that this is her first book, and not her last one." —American Journal of Transplantation

New Scientist

"This stylishly written book is much more than an account of comparative medical ethics. It is an insiders's story of how modern medicine can be made to work successfully in traditional societies where the demands of religion and extended families are central. It also details the daily struggle for survival in a megacity, and shows what happens when successive governments fail to provide basic housing and healthcare for the poorest." —New Scientist,

From the Publisher
"This stylishly written book is much more than an account of comparative medical ethics. It is an insiders's story of how modern medicine can be made to work successfully in traditional societies where the demands of religion and extended families are central. It also details the daily struggle for survival in a megacity, and shows what happens when successive governments fail to provide basic housing and healthcare for the poorest." —New Scientist,

"Offering a unique contribution to the literature on interpretations of organ donation within Islam, Moazam deftly exposes a diversity of views, sketching the tensions between fatawa which prescribe both duties to save human life, and duties to respect the sacredness of the body... It is this essential humility suffusing Moazam’s narrative which makes her many insights so powerful and so plausible. I am elated that this is her first book, and not her last one." —American Journal of Transplantation

American Journal of Transplantation
It is this essential humility suffusing Moazam's narrative which makes her many insights so powerful and so plausible. . . .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253347824
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Series: Bioethics and the Humanities Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Farhat Moazam is a pediatric surgeon, trained in the United States as well as Pakistan. She was founding Chair and Professor of the Department of Surgery, and Associate Dean of Postgraduate Education at the Aga Khan University Medical College in Karachi. She received her PhD in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, and is currently Professor and founding Chair of the Center of Biomedical Ethics and Culture, SIUT in Karachi, Pakistan.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Contents
Acknowledgments

Introduction
1. The Stage: Backdrop, Props, and Protagonists
2. Webs of Relationships and Obligations
3. Giving and Receiving Kidneys: Perspectives of Pakistani Patients and Families
4. A Surgeon in the Field
5. Conclusion: Ethics and Pakistan

Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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