Brain Death in Pregnant Women
Sister Mary Janice
17 January 2018
Outline for Brain Death in Pregnant Women
Topic: Brain Death in Maternal Women
II. Definitions/ Science
III. Case Studies
IV. Cost of Keeping Brain-Dead Pregnant Women Alive
V. Different Sides of Dilemma
VI. Doctors Viewpoint on Issue
VII. Church Teachings
1. Dignitas Personae
2. Dignity of the Dying Person
B. Bioethical Principles
1. Principle of totality and integrity
2. Principle of autonomy and respect
3. Principle of ordinary and extraordinary
4. The moral act
VIII. Personal reflection
A. Pros and Cons
B. Case Studies
Life seems to be a clear-cut issue. You’re either living, or you’re dead. However, this is not always the case. The medical and legal meanings of death have transformed a once-simple issue into one filled with questions: What determines death? What is brain death? And once death is decided, what course of action is usually followed by families and doctors? But when a pregnant woman is brain dead, is there another issue?
Brain death is an irreversible brain damage causing the end of independent respiration. (Kubick 1) Brain death alone is an ethical issue that brings up the question of how long-life support should be provided to brain dead patients? The issue becomes far more complicated when brain death occurs during pregnancy.
Ventilators, feeding tubes, and other medical technologies have made it much easier to sustain the lives of those with severe brain injuries, but at what point is an individual legally declared brain dead? According to the article “In the diagnosis of brain death” there are three essential findings in brain death: “coma, absence of brainstem reflexes, and apnea.” (Goila) A neurologists would come see if a patient has one of the three essential findings to determine if they are brain dead. For a patient to be in a coma they must lack all evidence of responsiveness and irreversibility. Some potential causes of irreversible loss of brain function would be “Severe head injury, hypertensive intracerebral hemorrhage, and hypoxic-ischemic brain insults.” (Goila) During a neurological examination they test many different reflexes. A neurologist would test pupillary reflexes, corneal reflexes, cough, jaw, and gag reflexes, heart rate, and respiratory systems. A patient with absence of brainstem reflexes should be unresponsive to stimuli that would trigger an involuntary response, such as dilation of the pupils in the presence of bright light. Apnoea is when there is an absence or suspension of breathing. The apnoea test would only need to be performed if the results are conclusive. Before a neurologist performs an apnoea test they need to make sure the patient meets the following conditions: “core temperature greater than equal to 36.5˚F or 97.7˚F, Normal PCO2 and normal PO2.”...