This article traces the trope of self-infliction for the moral economy
of liver transplantation. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Germany,
I discuss the trope of self-infliction to explore intimate uncertainties
that people with an alcoholic liver disease face when looking
for medical care. I claim that the moralising trope of self-infliction
plays a significant role in considerations about who is deserving of
a liver transplant and a ‘second chance’. As access to transplantation
becomes a life-and-death matter when livers fail, I see the trope
of self-infliction as a tool for triaging lives for liver transplantation.
Moreover, I claim that the trope of self-infliction, with its emphasis
on self-responsibility, has a gendered dimension that puts women
with an alcoholic liver disease under particular moral scrutiny. Furthermore,
I demonstrate how this moralising trope shapes regulatory
practices, like the ‘six-month abstinence rule’, which consequently
confine livers and thus, eventually, confine lives.