Racial Politics and Heart Transplantation in America
The case of Bruce Tucker (an African American man whose heart was transplanted into a white recipient without his family's consent) was the first legal case in the United States that challenged the conventional “definition of death” in the context of heart transplantation. Tucker had been declared “unclaimed dead” and there was no attempt made by the hospital to contact his family. This chapter attempts to address how racial attitudes, anxieties, and relations influence the practice of heart transplantation in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It also emphasizes that Tucker's case shows that the notion of citizenship can obscure the widely differing rights, opportunities, and claims implied by the term.
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