What is Death? (6): Is Brain Dead Dead Enough?
As you can tell by the now 6 different threads on "What is Death" ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)there is much to write about the topic from poetry to deep philosophic analysis. One of the currently more controversial topics deals with the concept of "brain death" or in other words "death by neurologic criteria" that entered the medical and social terminology back in 1968 and has been nurtured since then on the basis that the concept from an ethical and legal perspective allows the removal of organs from a person who is not "dead" based on the classic cardio-pulmonary criteria.
Contributing to the discussion has been the recent publication of the white paper of the President's Council on Bioethics as it deals with controversies in the determination of death, when and for what reasons a person can be considered dead. D. Alan Shewmon, writing an article "Brain Death: Can It be Resuscitated?" in the March-April 2009 issue of The Hastings Center Report takes on the white paper from both the points of view as to what it was attempting to accomplish and how it was presented but also the paper's confusing conclusions. For those interested in a kind of Philosophy 101 explanation of the issues regarding death and specifically brain death, you can have free access to the Hastings article (after registering) by clicking this link.
Come back and let us all know your view of death and whether creating the concept that a person is dead if the person is declared brain dead by the established neurologic criteria to facilitate the procurement of needed vital organs for transplant was the right thing to do. ..Maurice.