November 11, 1974

The Courage to Fail: A Social View of Organ Transplants and Dialysis

Author Affiliations

Columbia University-St. Luke's Hospital New York


by Renée C. Fox and Judith P. Swazey, 395 pp, with illus, $12.95, University of Chicago Press, 1974.

JAMA. 1974;230(6):906. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240060070043

The Courage to Fail is not the study of a political career, but rather is an account of the moral, ethical, social, and cultural dynamics "that exemplify the attributes and processes of therapeutic innovation." The authors, Professors Renée Fox of the University of Pennsylvania and Judith Swazey of Boston University, have wisely chosen the care of patients terminally ill with kidney or heart disease as their scientific model. As sociologists, they make it readily apparent that their text is not intended for the medical profession but for the layman interested in the sociology of transplantation and research physicians "more receptive to having social scientists portray their world than to undertake this task themselves."

Voluminous material has been amassed from our leading dialysis and transplant centers in order to analyze the metamedical aspects of a new form of therapy. Stimulating anecdotes and illustrative case histories depict the development of transplantation from