Gender dynamics in the donation field: human tissue donation for research, therapy and feeding

Julie Kent, Maria Fannin*, Sally J Dowling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
252 Downloads (Pure)


This paper examines how gender dynamics shape human tissue donation for research and for human health. Drawing on research investigating the donation of different types of bodily tissues including blood, plasma, breastmilk, cord blood, foetal tissue and placentae we consider how and why women and men are viewed as different kinds of donors. We situate these donation practices within a broader understanding of gender difference to explain why any sociology of donation needs to take account of gender. In so doing we explore how tissue derived from the bodies of women acquires value in distinctive ways and for distinctive purposes and reasons. Within these gendered bioeconomies of donation, the supply and demand for tissue is structured by social understandings of maternity, parental responsibility, and risk, which in turn affect the experiences of donors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-584
Number of pages18
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Issue number3
Early online date13 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Structured keywords

  • Gender Research Group


  • Biobanks
  • Blood donation
  • Breastfeeding
  • Abortion
  • Gender
  • Pregnancy
  • Placenta

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