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Banking on the Body

Banking on the Body

Kara W. Swanson
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Banking on the Body
    Book Description:

    Each year Americans supply blood, sperm, and breast milk to "banks" that store these products for use by strangers in medical procedures. Who gives, who receives, who profits? Kara Swanson traces body banks from the first experiments that discovered therapeutic uses for body products to current websites that facilitate a thriving global exchange.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-36948-1
    Subjects: Health Sciences, History, Law, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. INTRODUCTION: Banking for Love and for Money
    (pp. 1-14)

    In 2008 Connie Culp became the first American woman to undergo a face transplant, receiving the mouth, nose, and cheeks of a dead woman. The victim of a shotgun blast fired by her husband, Culp had been severely disfigured, missing both her nose and the roof of her mouth. After the surgery, she could talk, smile, and smell again, in a dramatic transformation of both her appearance and her quality of life. Her transplant, and earlier face transplants performed in France and China, transformed not only the recipients but all human faces.¹ What the ancient Romans knew as “the reflection...

  4. 1 Bankable Bodies and the Professional Donor
    (pp. 15-48)

    In 1908 Dr. Fritz Talbot spent three days riding street cars around Boston in a discouraging search for a wet nurse. Talbot was a recent graduate of Harvard Medical School, anxious to establish himself as a pediatrician, a new medical specialty.¹ One of his patients, a newborn baby, was not getting enough milk from his mother. The best hope for this baby’s survival was for his parents to hire a woman who would be willing to leave her own nursing baby and move into their home to feed their baby. Wet nursing was a long-established occupation, but finding a wet...

  5. 2 Banks That Take Donations
    (pp. 49-83)

    In 1933 Dr. Bernard Fantus accepted a new job as director of therapeutics at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He was an expert in pharmacology who, in his new position, found himself in charge of blood, a type of therapeutic that had not been in use when he worked as an intern at Cook County in 1900.¹ The situation at the Cook County Hospital with respect to blood transfusions was grim. Cook County was a public hospital, treating charity patients. Both its patients and the hospital itself were experiencing unrelenting financial pressures during the Great Depression. The hospital lacked sufficient...

  6. 3 Blood Battles in the Cold War
    (pp. 84-119)

    On December 7, 1941, Mrs. Bernice Hemphill found herself standing in a long line outside the Queen’s Hospital. Like hundreds of other residents of Honolulu, the young navy wife had headed straight to the hospital when she realized that the island was under enemy attack, seeking to give her blood as a way to be of immediate service to the many wounded in the early morning bombing raid on Pearl Harbor. Unlike the others in line, Hemphill was certified by the State of California as a laboratory bioanalyst, trained to run a clinical laboratory. After about an hour of standing...

  7. 4 Market Backlash
    (pp. 120-158)

    “Should men be free to sell their blood?¹ When Dr. Bernard Fantus conceived of the blood bank at Cook County Hospital in 1937, he did not concern himself with this question. Neither did the physicians who had been attempting to use blood transfusion to treat their patients in the decades before Fantus’s innovation. Fantus’s problem was not with blood selling but rather with blood buying, that is, how to provide blood for patients who could not afford the market prices for blood. The blood battles of the 1950s and 1960s did not turn on this question either. When a Massachusetts...

  8. 5 Feminine Banks and the Milk of Human Kindness
    (pp. 159-197)

    In a well-to-do Chicago suburb in the early 1950s, a mother was searching the neighborhoods for spare breast milk. Mrs. Jeanne Feagans had delivered her son prematurely at the Evanston Hospital in Evanston, Illinois. E. Robbins Kimball, her pediatrician, recommended breast milk for her delicate infant, but like many mothers of premature babies, Feagans was unable to produce any milk herself. Only about one-third of American mothers initiated breastfeeding in the 1950s, but by actively promoting breastfeeding among the mothers of his practice, Dr. Kimball had created a local anomaly. Two-thirds of the newborns among his patients were breastfed.¹ He...

  9. 6 Buying Dad from the Sperm Bank
    (pp. 198-237)

    “Earn up to $1200.00/month!” This enticing message to potential donors is part of online advertising for one of the largest sperm banks in the United States in the twenty-first century, California Cryobank. In addition to locations adjacent to the University of California in Los Angeles and Stanford University, it has an East Coast office “conveniently located within walking distance of the Harvard University and MIT campuses.”¹ This dollar amount is the first item on the list of reasons to donate.² Potential egg donors visiting the website for the Center for Human Reproduction, a fertility center based in New York City...

  10. CONCLUSION: Beyond the Body Bank
    (pp. 238-252)

    Throughout much of the twentieth century, the body bank was the dominant means of exchanging body products. What came to be called “banks” have had an outsize influence on how we have come to understand such exchanges in law and society. In the twenty-first century, as doctors further expand the frontiers of what can be taken from one body to treat another, they continue to rely on the original body bank, the blood bank, to enable their surgical feats of derring-do. And as face transplant recipient Connie Culp smiles with what was formerly Anna Kasper’s mouth, one of increasing numbers...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 255-320)
  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 321-324)
  13. Index
    (pp. 325-333)