Biofiction: Organ Donation & Transplantation Edition


CBHD often receives requests from educators and other individuals for popular resources that engage bioethics through various media (fiction, film, and television). In this resource, we offer an overview of materials relevant to organ donation and transplantation in fictional books and series. Readers are cautioned that these works represent a wide variety of genres and may not be appropriate for all audiences. If there is a work you think we missed, email us at


Organ Donation & Transplantation

  • Atwood, Margaret. The Heart Goes Last (Nan A. Talese, 2015)
    • Topics: (Autonomy, Free Will, Human-Robot Interactions, Neuroethics, Organ Trafficking, Robot Ethics)
  • Polansky, Stephen. The Bradbury Report: A Novel (Weinstein, 2010)
    • Pseudonymous chronicle of Raymond Bradbury, a retired teacher in New England, who encounters his copy (Alan) - A human clone who has been created as part of the U.S. government's solution to the developing healthcare crisis by creating a ready supply of spare organs. Ray's copy is the first known escape from the heavily guarded government cloning farms, and Ray is brought into a conspiracy to help Alan evade government capture. (Topics: Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide, Healthcare Ethics, Human Cloning, Organ Trafficking, Personhood)
  • Shusterman, Neal. Unwind (Simon and Schuster, 2007)
    • Unwind follows four teens fighting for their lives in a future America in which 13- to 19-year-olds can be “unwound”—a process of harvesting organs and body tissue for the use of others. The country has suffered through a Second Civil War pitting pro-life and pro-choice groups in combat over abortion. The passage of the “Bill of Life” along with a dramatic advance in organ transplantation capabilities by means of the development of “neurografting” (a procedure that makes use of 99.4% of the human body) have restored social order and begun to remedy cultural divisions that plagued the country by promoting human health. The Bill of Life offered a compromise by prohibiting abortion, but parents may retroactively abort their teen-aged children by “unwinding” them—harvesting all of their useful organs and tissues such that the children were said to not die, but physically live on. The teens in the story recognize their vulnerability and dispensability to their parents and society as a whole that results from this policy. The Bill of Life feigns preserving human life and dignity, but commodifies a demographic desired only for their tissues and organs. Unwind (and its sequels in the Unwind Dystology series UnWholly, UnSouled, and UnDivided) follows the teens and their resistance against forces promoting a casual view of human life and an expanding role for government and commercial power over the nation. How far should organ transplantation go? How does a nation slide into indifference toward its youth for personal, national, and commercial gains? Unwind is a tense read intended for a young adult audience, graphically exposing the possibilities of biomedical technology and the importance of a moral framework as necessary to keep safeguards on the advance of technology and medicine. (Review by Marie Butson, MDIV, MA) (Topics: Neuroscience, Organ Procurement and Transplantation, Reproductive Technologies)



Updated Summer 2019