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Healing by Heart - Essay Example

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Healing by Heart Part One The Hmong People The Hmong can be defined as an Asian ethnic group, who originate from mountainous areas of China, Thailand and Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, the Hmong people began immigrating in large numbers to the United States, and they now number over a quarter of a million…
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Download file to see previous pages Like many Asian communities, herbal medicine is still very important, and many of the Hmong people prefer traditional medicines to the conventional options. This can cause conflict between those working in the American healthcare industry and the patients who wish to retain their traditions, not least because traditional medicine could cause problems that would lead to healthcare providers breaking the Hippocratic Oath. Healing by Heart: Clinical and Ethical Case Stories of Hmong Families and Western Providers gives details of the issues facing both healthcare providers and the Hmong patients in society and how these may be explained and discussed from a clinical and ethical perspective. Young Woman with Kidney Failure and Transplant The story of Mai Neng Moua is an excellent example of how the Hmong people struggle to come to terms with aspects of the American healthcare system. Moua suffered from end-stage kidney disease and thus was forced to deal with the consequences of this debilitating illness at a very young age. Moua was forced to wait for a kidney transplant for a long time as her family refused to get tested to see if they were a match; her mother suggesting that it was better to have one person sick than two. Moua also struggled with explaining her choice to use dialysis (an example of conventional medicine) rather than the traditional Hmong remedies for her condition to her family and friends, as this was seen as breaking with traditional culture. It is clear from Moua’s writing that she suffered greatly from the consequences of her end-stage renal failure and her choice of conventional medicine was a sensible one; it is quite likely she would have died without it. Her choice to undergo a transplant was not supported by her family, although the decision was supported by her church. One of the most interesting things about this case is that Moua’s final kidney donor was a Caucasian friend, rather than any member of her community. This could be considered an example of direct diffusion as her choice reflects an adoption of the American culture she was interacting with. Moua also notes that her choice to accept the donation of a kidney from a Caucasian friend surprised the Hmong community, and helped break down some of the stereotypes of white people, because it showed generosity. It could also be seen as an example of ethnocide, particularly from the perspective of the Hmong people, as it is an example of how American culture has perhaps predominated over the traditional, particularly amongst the younger generations. Reflections The case of Mai Neng Moua is interesting from a medical anthropology perspective because it shows how traditional medicine and conventional medicine can often be at odds. It also illustrates how members of the community can ostracize those who choose the American health system over their own culture, as shown by the fact that Moua describes herself as a ‘loss to the family, to society in general’. Her mother seems to be the character in this story that is most confused and hurt by Moua’s decision to undergo dialysis and the eventual transplant, and is also against many other Western ideas that Moua has, such as moving in with her college roommate. Again, this shows how those among the Hmong communities in the United States may feel that their culture is being lost or destroyed (ethnocide) or becoming amalgamated into the American cult ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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