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Related to brain death: coma, Clinical death
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The debate focused around the argument that many doctors refuse to accept brain death as legal death, especially as a mechanically supported vegetative state would allow vital organs to be kept functional making them ideal for transplantation.
Brain death is defined as a clinical condition characterized with stopping of the intracranial circulation and irreversible loss of all brain functions (6).
Brain dead In brain death, besides the signs of clinical death, there are no other vital signs - like the pupils constricting when a light is shone in them and dilating when the light is removed - to show the brain is functioning.
Moreover, Teresi accuses the committee--indeed, the medical establishment--of advocating brain death as a benchmark that facilitates the harvesting of viable organs for transplants: "To those of us with untrained eyes, it appears that the Harvard committee was fixated on freeing up organs for transplant by pulling the plugs on (and then replugging) patients on respirators.
However in 1968, after the acceptance of death by brain-death criteria, donation after brain death (DBD) became the main source of organs for transplant worldwide.
In the modern era, Teresi says, the need for organ donors has brought about a new kind of death: the "loss of personhood," or brain death.
Prof Bion, an expert in intensive care medicine, will speak on the subject of brain death, while Prof Neuberger, a liver consultant, will chair a session entitled Donor Optimisation - where have all the hearts gone?
Teresi's choice of words, examples and innuendo are clearly meant to strike fear in the heart of the reader by suggesting there is something very, very wrong about the nation's organ and tissue donation programs and that the system for declaring brain death is seriously flawed and not to be trusted.
Since the development of the Harvard Brain Death Criteria in 1968, the concept of "neurological death" commonly called "brain death" has gained acceptance within the medical profession and among legislatures and courts in Canada.
In the United States, one state, New Jersey, has codified that an individual who has registered a religious or moral objection to the brain death standard cannot be declared dead by lack of functioning of the brain, and instead doctors must use lack of breathing and heartbeat as criteria for that individual.
Deceased donation is well established, and we are one of the few African countries with brain death legislation.
Brain death (irreversible cessation of all brain functions, including the brain steam) must occur.