Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Call For Closer Examination Of 'Brain Death' As The End Of Life

Date:
September 12, 2007
Source:
University of Bath
Summary:
The medical diagnosis of brain death is at odds with our traditional view of when death actually occurs, says a leading academic speaking at an international conference on death, dying and disposal. Whilst a diagnosis of brain death is made using factors including fixed and dilated pupils, lack of eye movement, absence of respiratory reflexes, the social understanding of death is that it occurs when the heart stops beating.

The medical diagnosis of brain death is at odds with our traditional view of when death actually occurs, says a leading academic speaking at an international conference on Death, dying & disposal in Bath 12 September 2007.

Whilst a diagnosis of brain death is made using factors including fixed and dilated pupils, lack of eye movement, absence of respiratory reflexes, the social understanding of death is that it occurs when the heart stops beating.

This makes decisions that often follow brain death, such as organ removal and the cessation of life support, potentially unsettling for the bereaved, says Professor Allan Kellehear from the Centre for Death & Society at the University of Bath.

He is calling for organ removal and cessation of life support to become social decisions, rather than purely medical ones, and for more research to be carried out into the social impact of brain death and its implications.

"Forty years ago, being dead used to be very simple - it was the point at which your heart stopped beating," said Professor Kellehear. "Now death itself has been complicated by the fact that we can keep alive people who are brain dead almost indefinitely.

"Brain death is the point at which doctors can switch off machines or begin harvesting organs, but, to relatives, being brain dead is not the same as being a corpse.

"Corpses are not warm, they are not pink, they do not move, they are not pregnant -- but a person who is brain dead can be all of these things.

"To all appearances, there is little difference between a person who is brain dead and a person who is asleep.

"At the same time we ask people if it is OK to remove a beating heart or other living organ from their loved one.

"It is further complicated by the fact that one in one thousand people who are brain dead survive when the machines are switched off.

"If it is your daughter lying there, your idea of a remote chance is very different from that of your daughter's doctor.

"The situation at present is that these decisions are based on medical information alone.

"I would argue that these should be social decisions. To better inform these decisions, we need a closer look at the social implications of brain death.

"At present, this understanding is totally lacking from the medical literature on this topic."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bath. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Bath. "Call For Closer Examination Of 'Brain Death' As The End Of Life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070911202516.htm>.
University of Bath. (2007, September 12). Call For Closer Examination Of 'Brain Death' As The End Of Life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070911202516.htm
University of Bath. "Call For Closer Examination Of 'Brain Death' As The End Of Life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070911202516.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins