Self-formation and Ethical Being

  • Samuel Taylor-Alexander


Analysing published interviews with face transplant patients and their families, I examine the profound shifts in individual identity and social relationships that result from the operations performance. In doing so, I demonstrate that face transplant surgery is transformative in a way that otherwise escapes the attention of regulatory bodies. Their primary concern has largely been with issues of psychological rejection on the part of the recipient, and how to retain the anatomical integrity of the brain dead donor’s body considering the overt damage caused by removing facial tissue. Little has been said about the psychosocial consequences, good or bad, of seeing the face of your mother, father, child or sibling on another person. I raise the question of whether established modes of evaluating clinical medicine are able to capture the newfound complexity that the operation introduces into the lives of patients, their families, and the relatives of the deceased donors. Drawing on social science notions of ethics and patient knowledge, I sketch a blueprint for incorporating patient experience and decision-making into existing modes of post-transplant assessment.


Brain Death Patient Knowledge Facial Tissue Anatomical Integrity Blind Patient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Samuel Taylor-Alexander 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel Taylor-Alexander
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of AucklandNew Zealand

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