As the transplant clinical team lead, it is Klein-Glover’s job to evaluate potential donors and determine whether they’re good candidates for organ donation, with the right social support in place to ensure a successful recovery.
In her experience, she says, “women are more likely to see themselves as the solution” to the problem than men.
In general, women are more socialised to see caring for their family members as an extension of their domestic duties. This, experts say, may be the main driving force of the disparity.
“There is a general social expectation that women will be givers,” says Bethany Foster, a physician who focuses on kidney research at McGill University in Canada.
This lines up with what medical anthropologists discovered when they conducted a study of attitudes towards living organ donation in Egypt and Mexico. Both cultures placed especially high expectations on mothers to donate their organs to their children, and conflated motherhood with a willingness to donate.
“Drawing a resonant analogy between giving birth and giving a kidney, mothers’ bodies were explicitly envisioned as the source of life from which both fully formed babies and organs could be extracted,” the study says. “Taking one more organ from that same source was rendered an organic continuation of that bodily intimacy and interdependence.”