There never used to be debate over when someone was dead. If there was no heartbeat, no breathing, and no response to stimulation or resuscitation for a sufficient period of time, it was clear that the death of the person had occurred. However, in 1968, that all...
If there was no heartbeat, no breathing, and no response to stimulation or resuscitation for a sufficient period of time, it was clear that the death of the person had occurred. However, in 1968, that all changed
In 1967, widespread attention was drawn to organ donation with Dr. Christian Barnard’s heart transplant in South Africa. This gave rise to an intense campaign—which continues today—to encourage organ harvesting/donation. The traditional criterion for declaring death (centered on absence of circulation and respiration), however, stands in the way of obtaining unpaired vital organs – such as the heart – in good condition for transplantation.
Why? Because it is necessary for the heart to be beating and for blood, carrying oxygen, to be pumping in and out of such organs at the time of removal. Therefore, the desire for vital organs for transplantation prompted some to look for new and different criteria to declare death which would allow functioning organs to be removed from the patient.
In 1968, the notion of “brain death” was formulated and published by an ad hoc committee of the Harvard Medical School. Thus, “brain death” as a criterion for declaring death was proposed and accepted by many.
The practice of declaring death based on “brain death” criterion is flawed. Criteria for declaring death are not something to take lightly. As long as “brain death” continues to be accepted and used as a sole diagnosis for death, some patients will be sent to the grave prematurely.
More information on organ donation below
By Paul A. Byrne, M.D. Breathing is something we do all the time, mostly without even thinking about it. We take a breath in, we blow a breath out. Breathing is required to continue to live. We must breathe to live. When difficulty with breathing occurs, treatment and...
If it is acceptable to kill a disabled person in the womb, could it one day be considered permissible to kill a disabled infant? Fetal abnormality Expectant parents can treat a diagnosis of fetal deformity or other form of birth defect almost as if it were death...
Before you fill out an organ donation card, here are a few things to think about.