The Alienation of the Gift: The Ethical Use of Donated Blood

Mahon-Daly, Pat (2015) The Alienation of the Gift: The Ethical Use of Donated Blood. Journal of Medical Law and Ethics, 3 (3). pp. 193-203. ISSN ISSN: 2213-5405

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Abstract The complexity of the contemporary corporeal gift has ramifications for understanding social exchange mechanisms, donor communities and the potential ethical concerns. This paper deconstructs modern day blood donation and reveals, as a result, tensions in what was once the safe world of the easily identifiable altruistic ‘no questions asked’ donor, with few ethical problems. It aims to realign classical sociological and anthropological theories of gift exchange to blood donation thus enabling further understanding of the donor world. This paper focuses on the theoretical implications for reframing the process of blood donation in the UK and the issues concerned with whose blood it is, what relationship the donation has with the donor body and with wider society in the blood product world. The author re-examines social exchange theory and alienation theory to argue that blood, once donated, has become inalienable from the donor and the nature of donation is today more of a covenant than the unfettered gift that it used to be. Increasingly, donors want to know where their blood has gone, and who has been given it, thus contesting the notion of alienation in relation to donated blood. This,it is argued, poses ethical issues for the concept of voluntary blood donation, the nature of consent, and the gift relationship today.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Ethics, Blood, Donation
Divisions: ?? BucksNewUniversity ??
Depositing User: J McPeak
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2017 11:50
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2017 19:26

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