Lists in Flux, Lives on Hold? Technologies of Waiting in Liver Transplant Medicine [chapter]

Julia Rehsmann
2020 Immobility and Medicine  
This chapter examines waiting in liver transplant medicine, a field characterized by immediacy, urgency and delay. By taking a close look at waiting lists, allocating algorithms and mobile phones, it engages with the technological and material features that generate, shape and mediate waiting and hope when livers fail. Based on ethnographic research in Germany, I analyse the powerful workings of ephemeral waiting lists and discuss how these lists in flux put the lives of those looking for an
more » ... an on hold. By doing so, I contribute to understandings of how immobilities are produced and their affective dimensions. I approach waiting lists for liver transplants as part of transplant medicine's invisible digital infrastructure and contend that the mobile phone becomes a critical feature therein, significantly affecting those waiting for a transplant. Firstly, I discuss the wait list as bureaucratic technology, marker of eligibility and symbol for patients' chances to receive live-saving treatment. I then show, secondly, how complex algorithms create these ephemeral lists. Thirdly, I turn in more detail to the experiences of a patient listed for a transplant. I demonstrate how, in this time of waiting-in-uncertainty, the mobile phone becomes an extension and tangible manifestation of this ephemeral list as well as a reminder of one's dependency on medical care. I show how the mobile phone transforms from a mere communication tool to an ambivalent marker of people's simultaneous mobility and immobility during their wait.
doi:10.1007/978-981-15-4976-2_2 fatcat:vjjx5jzo2beqfgvacuvgja3ujm