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More than any other altruistic gesture, blood and organ donation exemplies the true spirit of self-sacrifice. Donors literally give of themselves for no reward so that the life of an individual - often anonymous - may be spared. But, as the demand for blood and organs has grown, the value of a system that depends solely on gifts has been called into question, and the possibility has surfaced that donors might be supplemented or replaced by paid suppliers. "Last Best Gifts" offers a fresh perspective on this ethical dilemma, by examining the social organization of blood and organ donation in Europe and the United States. Gifts of blood and organs are not given everywhere in the same way or to the same extent - contrasts that allow Kieran Healy to uncover the crucial role that institutions play in creating the contexts for donations. Procurement organizations, he shows, sustain altruism by providing opportunities to give and by producing public accounts of what giving means. In the end, Healy suggests, successful systems rest on the fairness of the exchange, rather than the purity of a donor's altruism or the size of a financial incentive.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780226322377
ISBN-10: 0226322378
Format: Paperback
(228mm x 185mm x 12mm)
Pages: 200
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 25-Aug-2006
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Kieran Healey

Kieran Healy is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Arizona.