The Definition Of Death: An Ethical Issue In Organ Donation

644 words - 3 pages

According to The President’s Council on Bioethics, a group of individuals appointed by President George W. Bush to advise his administration on ethical issues related to
advances in biomedical science and technology, the need for criteria to define death became important after the invention of the mechanical ventilator, an artificial support for patients who cannot breathe on their own due to injury or infirmity ( The President’s Council 2). The definition of death was very simple before development of ventilators; patients were dead when the heart stops beating (Post 1946). Nevertheless, it became possible for circulatory and respiratory function to continue without neurological function ...view middle of the document...

But what were those criteria? To be more specific, in their white paper, The President’s Council proposed a statute, which was published by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) in 1981 named the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA), which stated “An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead” (5). The President’s Council on Bioethics suggested replacing the term “brain death” with the term “total brain failure” since the Council believed that the death of a human being “cannot be settled by appealing exclusively to clinical or patho-physiological facts” (49). The President’s Council compares “brain death” with ordinary death by stating that both conditions are identical and the difference is “mask[ed]” by artificial mechanical support (3).
Although it seems intuitively obvious that...

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