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Based on the case of the face transplant, this article analyzes the role played by anonymity in the process through which elements of the human body are made interchangeable. The question over the acceptability of the donation of the face first arose in the early 2000’s. Can the face be taken from a deceased person and given anonymously to a disfigured patient? Can it become an interchangeable organ? Despite heated debate, the first operation takes place in 2005. This paper elucidates, in the first place, the issues associated with the principle of anonymity in French policy of organ donation. It underscores the tensions raised by this principle in a context marked by the construction of the public problem of “organ shortage” on the one hand and by the valorization of donors on the other hand. Secondly, it follows the face itself, from its retrieval to its transplantation, and shows how the face is anonymized in practice. Thirdly, it follows the patients who have received a face donation. The article develops different types of relationship between the donors and the receivers. It thus highlights the processual nature of anonymity: Anonymization.

  • Organ transplant
  • face
  • policy
  • anonymity
Marie Le Clainche-Piel
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