Failing livers, anticipated futures and un/desired transplants

Rehsmann, Julia (2022). Failing livers, anticipated futures and un/desired transplants Anthropology & Medicine, 29(1), pp. 92-106. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/13648470.2021.2017126

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This article looks at liver transplants as life-prolonging treatment for chronic liver failure and examines the role anticipation plays in the context of chronic liver conditions. Based on anthropological fieldwork in Germany, this article draws on three exemplary patient accounts to show how the anticipatory experience of waiting for a liver transplant serves as an important period in transplant trajectories, and how the lack of a wait may have long-term consequences for patients’ wellbeing. A focus on waiting and anticipation in the context of chronic livers enables new understandings of the complex temporal qualities that living with chronic conditions entails. As the sole long-term treatment available for failing livers, the possibilities of transplant medicine shape patients’ anticipation of their future. Conversely, the particular futures that patients anticipate mould how they make sense of their transplant and their chronic pre- and post-transplant lives. This article shows that rather than offering a unilinear treatment with a clear-cut end, liver transplants, as treatment for a wide range of chronic conditions, reproduce chronic lives.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Health Professions
School of Health Professions > Nursing
School of Health Professions > Nursing > Field of Innovation – Psychosocial Health


Rehsmann, Julia0000-0003-3895-3264


H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)




Taylor & Francis




Julia Rehsmann

Date Deposited:

23 Feb 2022 13:08

Last Modified:

10 May 2023 10:39

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Liver transplants; anticipation; waiting; chronicity; Germany




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