Horror: paciente acorda em NY hospital com médicos tentando colher seus órgãos para lucrar com transplantes



Celso Galli Coimbra – OABRS 11352


(NaturalNews) I’ve warned Natural News readers about this several times over the last decade: Do NOT become an organ donor! Although you may wish to help others out of the goodness of your (literal) heart, the sinister truth is that doctors routinely harvest organs from LIVING patients right here in the USA.


And here’s yet more proof. This true story will astound you.

Waking up on the organ harvesting table…
A woman named Colleen Burns recently opened her eyes to find herself on an operating table in a hospital in Syracuse, NY. Looking around, she noticed that she was the subject of the operation. It turns out doctors were about to harvest her organs and send them to other waiting surgeons who would transplant them into other patients.

This isn’t fiction. It was covered by ABC News and several other news sources. It really happened.

And how did it happen? Doctors falsely pronounced her dead by fraudulently claiming she had suffered “cardiopulmonary arrest” and “irreversible brain damage.” This gave them the medical justification to start slicing away even while the woman’s heart was still beating.

This is a big “holy crap I didn’t know that” fact about organ donations: Doctors don’t wait until you’re really dead. At least not by any normal definition of “dead.”

See, you and I think “dead” means your heart isn’t beating, your brain isn’t functioning, and you’re lifeless. But hospitals — which happen to generate huge profits from the trade of transplant organs — have a strong financial incentive to declare you “medically dead” long before you’re actually lifeless.

They can, in fact, declare you “dead” even when your heart is still beating and you still have brain activity. And they often do. This is how a lot of the organ harvesting in America actually gets done: patients that are on the verge of death (but not yet actually dead) are simply “declared” dead, then their organs are quickly removed, killing them for good.

It’s a crime that takes place every day in America, where U.S. hospitals have been caught over and over again engaging in black market organ trafficking.

Read: U.S. Hospitals Secretly Promote Black Market Trading of Harvested Organs for Transplants

A multi-billion-dollar industry
Organ trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Wealthy people around the world are always in need of new kidneys, new livers, new hearts and other body parts.

And guess who makes the money on all these organ transplants? The doctors, hospitals and drug companies, of course. Organ transplants are a hugely profitable industry — largely because they get the organs for free. Patients who are killed by these doctors are never paid for their organs. The fact that they “donate” them actually means they are donating their immensely valuable organs to a for-profit system that’s going to earn potentially millions of dollars off the organs of a single donor.

So while the donor patient gets murdered for his or her organs, the doctors engaged in organ removal and organ transplants get wealthy. Transplant recipients and health insurance companies pay huge dollars for organ transplant surgeries, and the profits are ongoing because transplant recipients must also pay for a long course of organ transplant anti-rejection drugs, all priced at monopoly prices (of course).

Truth be told, the organ transplant industry is all about money — at any cost. It’s about killing patients who might otherwise survive in order to take their organs and make millions of dollars transplanting them into other patients… patients who typically only have a few months to live even after the transplant.

Read: Global organ harvesting a booming black market business; a kidney harvested every hour.

Transplanted organs are often damaged or infested with disease
Here’s another dirty little trick the organ transplant industry will never tell you: The organs that are transplanted into other patients are often fatally damaged and full of infectious diseases.

As yet more proof of this, take the case of Colleen Burns, mentioned above. She tried to commit suicide by taking a toxic combination of prescription medications. According to the doctors, this toxic cocktail of chemicals was fatal, and it killed her (they pronounced her dead).

Yet, simultaneously, they still insisted her organs were healthy enough to transplant into another patient! That’s why they almost began harvesting them.

In other words, even organs that doctors know are heavily damaged with toxic chemical cocktails will still be transplanted into other patients! (This is 100% true.)

But it’s even worse than that…

Transplant organs often riddled with disease: hepatitis, stealth viruses, mad cow disease and more
There are effectively zero quality standards in the organ transplant industry. If the organ still functions at any level, it’s “good enough” to be slapped into a transplant patient even though that organ might actually kill them.

One of the reasons organ transplant patients often die so quickly after receiving transplants is because the organs they often receive are ticking time bombs of disease.

Introducing a diseased heart or kidney into someone’s body, for example, can suddenly infest that person with hundreds or even thousands of viruses and blood-borne illnesses that quickly overcome their weakened immune systems. This is made even worse by the anti-rejection drugs which, by definition, cause extreme suppression of immune function.

So at the exact time that new diseases are being introduced into the transplant recipient’s body, their immune system is being undermined by anti-rejection drugs. Not surprisingly, this is a recipe for disaster, and that’s one reason why so many patients die so quickly after receiving “donor” organs.

Iraq war veteran killed by cancer-ridden transplant lungs
As an example of what I just described above, in 2009, an Iraq war veteran named Matthew Millington was given a lung transplant using lungs that were riddled with a fast-growing cancer.

Not surprisingly, he died less than 10 months later. Did all the organ transplant doctors and surgeons give him a refund for their botched procedure? Of course not! Organ transplants do not come with warranties, and you’re often given a diseased, damaged or heavily infested organ that’s going to kill you. (But you still gotta pay up!)

There are roughly 100,000 people waiting for organ transplants in the USA right now. But there are only a fraction of that number of organs available in any given year, so doctors are under intense pressure to 1) harvest organs from people who aren’t yet dead, and 2) use ANY organs they can find, even organs that are riddled with disease.

Again, these are the dirty little secrets of the organ transplant industry that you’ll never be told by any doctor. Expect to hear nothing but denials if you ask organ transplant doctors about any of this.

More healthy organ donors “need to suddenly die”
The other challenge the transplant industry faces is that healthy people who take care of their organs through nutrition and exercise simply don’t tend to die very often. The kind of people most likely to die (and therefore most like to donate organs) are alcoholics, drug addicts and people who are obese and diseased. Therefore, those are the kind of organs that end up being available for transplant: nasty “fatty” livers and cancerous lungs, for example.

Ideally, the organ transplant industry would like to see a lot of young, healthy people getting decapitated in military training exercises or automobile accidents. That would supply a fresh supply of healthy organs that might actually be worth transplanting. In China, of course, this is why Falun Gong members are routinely arrested and imprisoned: they eat super-healthy diets and so have high-grade organs that can be profitably harvested from political prisoners there.

The practice of arresting people, imprisoning them and sometimes even murdering them for their organs is a lot more widespread than you think. How do you suppose Steve Jobs got a new liver so quickly, even while thousands of other people were waiting for one? He bought it. Gee, do you really think Steve Jobs stood in line like everyone else and then magically a liver appeared for him much faster than for anyone else?

Presumed consent
There is a push under way around the world to harvest organs from everyone who doesn’t explicitly say no. These laws are called “presumed consent” laws, and they exist only to provide a fresh supply of human organs to generate billions of dollars in profits for the sick, criminal-minded organ transplant industry.

As a 2011 article in the British Medical Journal explains, these “presumed consent” laws mean doctors can start harvesting the organs of your wife, your children or other loved ones without even asking family members for permission!

As the BMJ article explains:

Presumed consent is alternatively known as an ‘opt-out’ system and means that unless the deceased has expressed a wish in life not to be an organ donor then consent will be assumed. This can be divided into what is known as a ‘hard opt-out’ where the family are not consulted.

There’s even a website about this — PresumedConsent.org — which uses a lot of flowery language and feel-good imagery to hide the fact that it’s pushing for doctors to pronounce more patients “dead” and take their organs so that the organ transplant industry can make a few billion more dollars each year.

What we’re talking about here is coercive organ harvesting in order to feed the organ trafficking and transplant industries.

Think about that the next time some clueless paper-pusher asks you at the DMV, “Do you want to be an organ donor?”

Just answer: “No thanks. I prefer that doctors actually try to keep me alive.”

Don’t give doctors any incentive to kill you. They already kill enough patients even when they aren’t trying.

Trust me on this: say NO to organ donation. If you really want to help people, teach them to protect the organs God already gave them through superfoods, nutrition, exercise and healthy living.

Read more:

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/041152_transplant_patients_organ_harvesting_presumed_consent.html#ixzz2btHAEcRz

The near-death experience of the medical profession

Daily Mail, 11 September 2006

“Medical science, in other words, has been playing God. The Cambridge experiment has demonstrated just how horrifyingly wrong that was.”

The ghastly prospect that, as a result of catastrophic illness, doctors might write you off as dead even though you are well aware of what is going on but can’t communicate that you are still alive, is the stuff of nightmares.


Such concern is often expressed about patients in a persistent vegetative state (PVS), but until now this has been pooh-poohed by doctors as fanciful and alarmist.


They have asserted with unchallengeable confidence that the damage to these patients’ brains means that it is physically impossible for them ever again to be aware of anything.


As a result, ever since the landmark 1993 case of the Hillsborough disaster victim Tony Bland, the law has allowed doctors to stop giving such patients food and fluids on the grounds that this permits them finally to die and thus end a ‘living death’.


Actually, since they are not dying, it does nothing of the sort; it is more truthful to call it legalised killing. This objection, however, is brushed aside on the basis that, since they feel nothing, such patients are as good as dead, and protesters are dismissed as cranks or religious extremists.


But now, graphic evidence has been produced that such clinical arrogance is wholly misplaced. A team of Cambridge neuroscientists has reported that a woman who had suffered a severe head injury in a road accident, and seemed unable to communicate or respond to any stimulus, actually played tennis in her head and made a mental tour of her home when asked to do so by the research team.


Doctors said she retained the ability to understand spoken commands and to respond to them through activity in her brain which they were able to monitor and which was the same as the brain activity of a healthy person.


This revelation, which has astounded the medical profession, has the most profound ethical implications. It proves dramatically that even where a doctor pronounces that a patient will never recover consciousness, this certainly does not mean that the patient is dead. And it raises the horrifying possibility that PVS patients may have been starved or dehydrated to death even though they might have felt what was happening to them.


It also calls sharply into question the practice of switching off the life-support machines of others who are in a deep coma. The fact is that these patients are alive, and the Cambridge experiment rubs the doctors’ noses in this most inconvenient fact — one that they have tried so hard to deny.


The case exposes the total absence of humility of a medical profession that pretends to know what it cannot possibly know. Much that goes on in the brain, especially around the issue of consciousness, remains utterly mysterious and unexplained.


Yet doctors arrogantly assume that they know enough about the brain not only to declare that their patients will never recover any sensation but, worse still, that in some cases they are actually dead.


This has implications even more sensitive than for sufferers from PVS. For the medical definition of ‘brain-stem death’ underpins organ donation, which gives people who would otherwise die of chronic disease the chance of gaining a healthy life through an organ transplant.


A new law that has just come into operation has deprived relatives of their power of automatic veto over the removal of organs from loved ones who carried donor cards. This is aimed to tackle the chronic shortage of organ donors, which means that every year some 500 people die waiting for a transplant.


Doctors will now be able to override relatives’ objections unless they feel that these are overwhelming. But relatives are often reluctant to give their consent for organs to be removed because they see that the body of their loved one remains healthily pink and with a heart that is still beating.


The philosopher Baroness Warnock, that self-appointed national arbiter of where life begins and ends, says such squeamishness is inevitably based on ‘irrational sentiment or irrational dogma’. But this is simply as ignorant as it is offensive.


For the fact is that the medical profession has redefined death purely for the benefit of the transplant programme. It has defined the point of death as the failure of the brain-stem to respond to certain tests, with the resulting additional diagnosis of the irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness and the capacity to breathe.


But testing the brain-stem cannot exclude all possibility of recovery in every case — not least because it does not test the higher parts of the brain that may still be functioning. That is why, as a recent report from a German neurosurgical unit revealed, two of their patients diagnosed as brain-stem dead actually ‘recovered’. In other words, they were not dead at all.


Moreover, some anaesthetists who paralyse ‘brain-stem dead’ patients to enable their organs to be removed give them a general anaesthetic as well— just in case they may still have some feeling during the procedure.


Whoever heard of anaesthetising a corpse to avoid the slightest chance of causing it pain or distress? This in itself demonstrates that, even for doctors involved in organ removal for transplant purposes, the definition of death is wholly artificial and even meaningless.


Yet such is the pressure of the transplant programme, they insist on ignoring or even denying the considerable body of evidence giving rise to such doubts within the profession. The Royal College of Anaesthetists recently upheld the brain-stem death definition and repeated the claim that is frequently made in such circles that ‘death is a process rather than an event’.


But this is absurd. Dying is a process; death is indeed an event. The distinction has been blurred simply because death has become too inconvenient. Organs for transplant cannot usefully be extracted from the dead, so they are being taken instead on occasion from people who may at most be dying —at which point the ‘event’ of death certainly does take place.


Of course, it is a noble ideal to save the lives of those who are desperately ill. And some whose organs are harvested are undoubtedly dead. But what if the transplant programme does not always take organs from corpses but from living people who are actually killed by this process — and more horrifying still, may even have some awareness of their surroundings?


The uncomfortable fact is that we have redefined our understanding of death so that it no longer applies in circumstances where life has become too inconvenient. Our society no longer believes in absolutes — even those such as life or death — if they stop scientists from fulfilling their promise to deliver happiness to all.

Thus when the traditional understanding that human life begins at conception started getting in the way of embryo research, which was said to benefit infertile couples or help find a cure for genetic disease, Lady Warnock obligingly and arbitrarily shifted the start of life to 14 days’ gestation.


Thus, when the traditional understanding that death occurs when the heart stops beating started preventing organs being harvested for transplant purposes, doctors redefined the point of death as the failure of the brain stem instead.


Medical science, in other words, has been playing God. The Cambridge experiment has demonstrated just how horrifyingly wrong that was.

Fonte: http://www.melaniephillips.com/articles-new/?p=449


Governo investiga empresa de tráfico de órgãos


Japonês criou um website, no mês passado, que oferece rins ou fígado de filipinos pela internet

Publicado em  15/06/2007 17:18

O Ministério da Saúde e Bem-Estar Social do Japão declarou que vai investigar o caso de um japonês que está negociando transplantes de rins nas Filipinas, através de um website na internet. O intermediário é suspeito de violar a Lei Nacional de Transplantes de Órgãos, segundo a emissora pública de televisão NHK.

O site, que entrou no ar no mês passado, oferece ajuda para japoneses que desejam receber rins ou fígado proveniente de filipinos. O governo suspeita que a companhia está baseada naquele país.

O website afirma que o transplante de rins custa entre US$ 64 mil e US$ 80 mil, incluindo a comissão do intermediário, que é de US$ 20 mil.

A lei sobre transplantes de orgãos no Japão proíbe que seus cidadãos cobrem dinheiro de comissão para arranjo de órgãos. Assim como no Brasil, a legislação nipônica determina que obter lucros a partir de transplantes constitui tráfico de orgãos, mesmo que a transação seja realizada no exterior.



Stop Harvesting Organs after ‘Cardiac Death,’ Say MDs

Wednesday September 15, 2010

By Patrick B. Craine

CALGARY, Alberta, September 15, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A group of doctors have called on the medical community to cease harvesting organs from patients whose hearts have stopped pulsating, saying that doctors are misleading families to believe that the patient has died when in fact their loved one is still alive.

The story was featured Wednesday on the cover of Canada’s National Post.

“A longstanding tenet of ethical organ donation [is] that the nonliving donor must be irreversibly dead at the time of donation,” explain the eight paediatric intensive care specialists, writing in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.

The doctors say that the public’s “underlying assumption” when they agree to donate organs is that “they are giving permission to have their organs removed after they are dead.”

But the authors observe that “death” has been redefined in the last few decades to meet the demand for more organs.  They say organs were originally taken from “cadaveric donors who died in the conventional way, irreversibly losing all electrical and mechanical activity from the heart (circulation) and all brain function, despite medical efforts to save them.”

But “this method of organ procurement created a problem for organ transplantation.” “If the patient died in the conventional way then, at the time of irreversibility, so did most organs.”

The notion of “brain death” was created in 1981 in order to harvest more organs, they say.  Then in 1991 the Pittsburgh Protocol was developed to allow doctors to harvest the organs of adults after a person’s heart has stopped for a certain period.

The Protocol involves removing the person from life support for 30 to 60 minutes.  If the patient’s heart continues to beat after that time, they are returned to the ICU, but if it stops for a prescribed period (around 2 minutes, though ranging from 75 seconds to 10 minutes depending on the jurisdiction), the organs are harvested.

“No efforts are made to assess the patient’s brain function at the time of organ removal,” the authors explain. “The claim is that circulation has irreversibly stopped after 2 mins of observation.”

But this ignores the many reports of the “Lazarus phenomenon,” where a patient’s heart starts again 5 to 10 minutes after CPR is performed.  Such instances suggest that “the heart function and circulation may not be irreversibly stopped in DCD [‘Donation after Cardiac Death’] patients at the time of organ procurement.”

The authors also point out that doctors’ desire to prolong lives through organ transplants can “foster physician and institutional bias” for the cardiac death criteria.

While opposing the notion of “cardiac death”, the authors accept organ harvesting following “brain death”.  Opponents of “brain death” point out that organs can only be harvested when the organ’s functioning continues, meaning that the donor is still showing signs of life.  They say that if the person is truly dead, the unpaired vital organs cannot be transplanted.  In particular, “brain death” has allowed heart transplants, but the heart is only useful if it is still beating in the donor.

Akin to the “Lazarus phenomenon” noted by the authors, there have been numerous instances of patients recovering following a declaration of “brain death”.

The National Post interviewed Dr. Ari Joffe, the sole Canadian author of the controversial document, from Stollery Children’s Hospital in Calgary.  “I think that we’re being less than entirely honest about when the patient is truly dead,” he said. “We’re not trying to deny the parent the choice to donate … The point we’re making is ‘what if they’re almost dead and we’re not sure if they’re dead, and it’s not at the point of irreversibility yet?’”


See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Melbourne Doctor: Most Donors Still Alive when Organs are Removed

New England Journal of Medicine: ‘Brain Death’ is not Death

Doctors Who Almost Dissected Living Patient Confess Ignorance about Actual Moment of Death

Doctor Says about “Brain Dead” Man Saved from Organ Harvesting – “Brain Death is Never Really Death”

Denver Coroner Rules “Homicide” in Organ-Donor Case

Russian Surgeons Removing Organs Saying Patients Almost Dead Anyway

Shock: Oxford Neonatologist Says Time Has Come to Consider “Mandatory Organ Donation”


The Dead Donor Rule and Organ Transplantation


In this issue of the Journal, Boucek et al. (pages 709–714) report on three cases of heart transplantation from infants who were pronounced dead on the basis of cardiac criteria. The three Perspective articles and a video roundtable discussion at http://www.nejm.org address key ethical aspects of organ donation after cardiac death. Bernat and Veatch comment on the cases described by Boucek et al.; Truog and Miller raise a fundamental question about the dead donor rule. In a related Perspective roundtable, moderator Atul Gawande, of Harvard Medical School, is joined by George Annas, of the Boston University School of Public Health; Arthur Caplan, of the University of Pennsylvania; and Robert Truog. Watch the roundtable online at http://www.nejm.org.

Since its inception, organ transplantation has been guided by the overarching ethical requirement known as the dead donor rule, which simply states that patients must be declared dead before the removal of any vital organs for transplantation. Before the development of modern critical care, the diagnosis of death was relatively straightforward: patients were dead when they were cold, blue, and stiff. Unfortunately, organs from these traditional cadavers cannot be used for transplantation. Forty years ago, an ad hoc committee at Harvard Medical School, chaired by Henry Beecher, suggested revising the definition of death in a way that would make some patients with devastating neurologic injury suitable for organ transplantation under the dead donor rule.1

The concept of brain death has served us well and has been the ethical and legal justification for thousands of lifesaving donations and transplantations. Even so, there have been persistent questions about whether patients with massive brain injury, apnea, and loss of brain-stem reflexes are really dead. After all, when the injury is entirely intracranial, these patients look very much alive: they are warm and pink; they digest and metabolize food, excrete waste, undergo sexual maturation, and can even reproduce. To a casual observer, they look just like patients who are receiving long-term artificial ventilation and are asleep.

The arguments about why these patients should be considered dead have never been fully convincing. The definition of brain death requires the complete absence of all functions of the entire brain, yet many of these patients retain essential neurologic function, such as the regulated secretion of hypothalamic hormones.2 Some have argued that these patients are dead because they are permanently unconscious (which is true), but if this is the justification, then patients in a permanent vegetative state, who breathe spontaneously, should also be diagnosed as dead, a characterization that most regard as implausible. Others have claimed that “brain-dead” patients are dead because their brain damage has led to the “permanent cessation of functioning of the organism as a whole.”3 Yet evidence shows that if these patients are supported beyond the acute phase of their illness (which is rarely done), they can survive for many years.4 The uncomfortable conclusion to be drawn from this literature is that although it may be perfectly ethical to remove vital organs for transplantation from patients who satisfy the diagnostic criteria of brain death, the reason it is ethical cannot be that we are convinced they are really dead.

Over the past few years, our reliance on the dead donor rule has again been challenged, this time by the emergence of donation after cardiac death as a pathway for organ donation. Under protocols for this type of donation, patients who are not brain-dead but who are undergoing an orchestrated withdrawal of life support are monitored for the onset of cardiac arrest. In typical protocols, patients are pronounced dead 2 to 5 minutes after the onset of asystole (on the basis of cardiac criteria), and their organs are expeditiously removed for transplantation. Although everyone agrees that many patients could be resuscitated after an interval of 2 to 5 minutes, advocates of this approach to donation say that these patients can be regarded as dead because a decision has been made not to attempt resuscitation.

This understanding of death is problematic at several levels. The cardiac definition of death requires the irreversible cessation of cardiac function. Whereas the common understanding of “irreversible” is “impossible to reverse,” in this context irreversibility is interpreted as the result of a choice not to reverse. This interpretation creates the paradox that the hearts of patients who have been declared dead on the basis of the irreversible loss of cardiac function have in fact been transplanted and have successfully functioned in the chest of another. Again, although it may be ethical to remove vital organs from these patients, we believe that the reason it is ethical cannot convincingly be that the donors are dead.

At the dawn of organ transplantation, the dead donor rule was accepted as an ethical premise that did not require reflection or justification, presumably because it appeared to be necessary as a safeguard against the unethical removal of vital organs from vulnerable patients. In retrospect, however, it appears that reliance on the dead donor rule has greater potential to undermine trust in the transplantation enterprise than to preserve it. At worst, this ongoing reliance suggests that the medical profession has been gerrymandering the definition of death to carefully conform with conditions that are most favorable for transplantation. At best, the rule has provided misleading ethical cover that cannot withstand careful scrutiny. A better approach to procuring vital organs while protecting vulnerable patients against abuse would be to emphasize the importance of obtaining valid informed consent for organ donation from patients or surrogates before the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in situations of devastating and irreversible neurologic injury.5

What has been the cost of our continued dependence on the dead donor rule? In addition to fostering conceptual confusion about the ethical requirements of organ donation, it has compromised the goals of transplantation for donors and recipients alike. By requiring organ donors to meet flawed definitions of death before organ procurement, we deny patients and their families the opportunity to donate organs if the patients have devastating, irreversible neurologic injuries that do not meet the technical requirements of brain death. In the case of donation after cardiac death, the ischemia time inherent in the donation process necessarily diminishes the value of the transplants by reducing both the quantity and the quality of the organs that can be procured.

Many will object that transplantation surgeons cannot legally or ethically remove vital organs from patients before death, since doing so will cause their death. However, if the critiques of the current methods of diagnosing death are correct, then such actions are already taking place on a routine basis. Moreover, in modern intensive care units, ethically justified decisions and actions of physicians are already the proximate cause of death for many patients — for instance, when mechanical ventilation is withdrawn. Whether death occurs as the result of ventilator withdrawal or organ procurement, the ethically relevant precondition is valid consent by the patient or surrogate. With such consent, there is no harm or wrong done in retrieving vital organs before death, provided that anesthesia is administered. With proper safeguards, no patient will die from vital organ donation who would not otherwise die as a result of the withdrawal of life support. Finally, surveys suggest that issues related to respect for valid consent and the degree of neurologic injury may be more important to the public than concerns about whether the patient is already dead at the time the organs are removed.

In sum, as an ethical requirement for organ donation, the dead donor rule has required unnecessary and unsupportable revisions of the definition of death. Characterizing the ethical requirements of organ donation in terms of valid informed consent under the limited conditions of devastating neurologic injury is ethically sound, optimally respects the desires of those who wish to donate organs, and has the potential to maximize the number and quality of organs available to those in need.

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy of the National Institutes of Health, the Public Health Service, or the Department of Health and Human Services.

Source Information

Dr. Truog is a professor of medical ethics and anesthesia (pediatrics) in the Departments of Anesthesia and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Division of Critical Care Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston — both in Boston. Dr. Miller is a faculty member in the Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.



  1. A definition of irreversible coma: report of the ad hoc committee of the Harvard Medical School to examine the definition of brain death. JAMA 1968;205:337-340. [Free Full Text]
  2. Truog RD. Is it time to abandon brain death? Hastings Cent Rep 1997;27:29-37. [Web of Science][Medline]
  3. Bernat JL, Culver CM, Gert B. On the definition and criterion of death. Ann Intern Med 1981;94:389-394. [CrossRef][Web of Science][Medline]
  4. Shewmon DA. Chronic “brain death”: meta-analysis and conceptual consequences. Neurology 1998;51:1538-1545. [Free Full Text]
  5. Miller FG, Truog RD. Rethinking the ethics of vital organ donation. Hastings Cent Rep (in press).


This article has been cited by other articles:

  • Abiola, S., Chernyak, I. (2008). Recent developments in health law.. J Law Med Ethics 36: 856-865
  • Chrispin, E, Conlon Vaswani, N, English, V, Harrison, C, Sheather, J, Sommerville, A (2008). Ethics briefings. J. Med. Ethics 34: 829-830 [Full Text]
  • Curfman, G. D., Morrissey, S., Drazen, J. M. (2008). Cardiac Transplantation in Infants. NEJM 359: 749-750 [Full Text]


Finis Vitae. Is Brain Death Still Life? Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Italia



Table of contents
Foreword p.   7
The Heart of the Matter, John Andrew Armour 11
Determining Death: is Brain Death Reliable?, Rainer Beckmann 27
A Brief Summary of Catholic Doctrine Regarding Human Life,
Fabian W. Bruskewitz 45
Death: the Absence of  Life, Paul A. Byrne 63
Genuine Science or False Philosophy?, Roberto de Mattei 85
What is ‘Brain Death’? A British Physician’s View, David W Evans 99
Personal Testimony on the Understanding of Brain Death,
Joseph C. Evers 107
The Apnea Test – a Bedside Lethal ‘Disaster’ to Avoid a Legal
‘Disaster’ in the Operating Room, Cicero Galli Coimbra 113
Brain Death. A United Kingdom Anaesthetist’s View,
David J. Hill 147
The Beginning and the End of Life. Toward Philosophical Consistency,
Michael Potts 161
On ‘Brain Death’ in Brief Philosophical “Arguments” against
Equating it with Actual Death and Responses to “Arguments”
in Favour of such an Equation, Josef Seifert 189
Brain-body Disconnection: Implications for the Theoretical
Basis of  ‘Brain Death’, D. Alan Shewmon 211
Table of contents
Is Brain Death the Death of the Human Being?
On the Current State of Debate, Robert Spaemann 251
A Law of Life, Legality vs. Morality, Wolfgang Waldstein 265
Controversies on Brain Death in Japan and our Seven-Year Experience
after the Enforcement of the Organ Transplantation Law,
Yoshio Watanabe 275
Unpaired Vital Organ Transplantation. Secular Altruism?
Has Killing become a virtue?, Walt Franklin Weaver 285
The Concept of Brain Death and the Death of Man, Ralph Weber


Mors est finis vitae: not only is death the biological end of life, but it is also the moment when its meaning is disclosed, and with it, also the ultimate purpose of human life. Nevertheless, there has not been on the subject of death the same scientific and cultural debate among public opinion and experts alike, which in recent years, on the other hand, has developed and is still taking place, about the origin of life.

The application of recent scientific and technological developments to medicine have led to new grounds for reflection on death: it is enough here to mention issues such as therapeutic obstinacy, the “biological will”, euthanasia and assisted suicide, requests of interruption of treatment, palliative therapies and above all the removal of organs for transplantation purposes. The ideal scenario for those who perform a certain type of explants, such as those concerning the human heart, would be to be able to do so on a human being who is still alive. Obviously, this does in turn raise serious moral problems which can be solved only provided we “redefine” the entire concept of death.

In fact up until the 60s, Western judicial and medical tradition believed that the acknowledgement of death should be carried out through the confirmation of the definitive cessation of all vital functions: that is breathing, blood circulation and activity of the nervous system. In August 1968, an “Ad Hoe” Committee instituted by Harvard Medical School set forth a new criterion for the ascertainment of death based on entirely neurological evidence: that is on the definitive cessation of all brain activity, under the definition of “irreversible coma” .

Since then the concept of brain death has been incorporated into both legislation and medical practice in most countries in the world. Ever since the 80s, however, doubts and criticisms have been repeatedly raised within the scientific community on the validity of such definition. The criteria introduced by the “Ad Hoc” Committee instituted by Harvard Medical School seem to have lost nowadays both their scientific foundation and initial justification. According to them, in fact, if the encephalon ceases functioning, the body becomes nothing more than a mere collection of organs, forsaken and lacking the coordinating centre which would allow the integration among the various functions of the body itself. However, although on a theoretical level what is known as the concept of “central integration” retains a certain attractiveness and can be made object of many and diverse interpretations from a philosophical point of view, medical day by day practice has throughout the years demonstrated a multiplication of episodes in which the irreversible cessation of all brain functions did not bring about also the cessation of integrated functioning of a human body, even when in intensive care.

Many doubts and questions have also been raised with regards to the neurological criteria to be employed for the ascertainment of death. In order to declare a patient with lethal brain injuries dead is it necessary to consider the functioning of the whole encephalon or does a critical system exist within the encephalon which by ceasing its activity can single – handedly determine the dis – integration of the body and, as a consequence, its death?

In a number of countries among which the United Kingdom, doctors who are called upon to ascertain the death of a brain injured patient, only take into account the functionality of the encephalic trunk alone, and do not employ any instrumental methods of assessment in order to verify their clinical evaluation. On the contrary, in Italy neurological criteria which refers to the functionality of the whole encephalon apply and it is compulsory under the law to perform an electroencephalogram on the patient. Why does such an inconsistency in the nature of neurological criteria applied exist? And furthermore, which set of criteria is the most scientifically appropriate in this case?

Furthermore, other questions can be added to those mentioned above, such as those which derive from medical practice drawing attention to cases of patients who, although answering to the requirements set forth by the neurological criteria concerning the entire encephalon, and therefore declared dead but still linked to the reanimation machines while waiting for organ explantation, still retain endocrine – hypothalamic functions as well as those of neuro-hormonal regulation. Does this mean that those patients were in fact still alive? Should this be the case, it would mean that brain death should be viewed not as the death of a human being, but rather as an irreversible condition, a stage which precedes the authentic death of the individual.

All these, and many other weighty questions of an ethical, juridical and philosophical nature, are investigated in this volume by internationally renowned scholars. A number of these contributions have been presented at the Conference entitled “The Signs of Death” which was promoted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and took place in Vatican City on 3-4 February 2005, while others have been written for this publication by European and American doctors, jurists, philosophers.

The significance and the complexity of the subject – matter require an in depth investigation to which we hope also this publication will give a significant contribution.

Roberto de Mattei


National Research Council of Italy




Pro-Life Conference on “Brain Death” Criteria Will Have Uphill Climb to Sway Entrenched Vatican Position

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Transplantes e morte encefálica. L’Osservatore Romano rompe o tabu


By Hilary White

ROME, February 16, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An conference set to take place in Rome this week on “brain death” seeks to clarify the position of the Catholic Church on the removal of vital organs from patients.

In November 2008, a high-profile conference on organ transplants, held in one of Rome’s most prominent conference halls, steps away from St. Peter’s Basilica, and sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, caused an uproar when it declined to address the ethical problems of “brain death” criteria.

Hundreds of letters and appeals to the Pontifical Academy for Life from pro-life advocates around the world went un-answered and the conference went ahead with no mention of any of the controversy surrounding the use of these and other criteria that allow the removal of organs from living patients.

Pope Benedict XVI, however, in his address to the conference, warned that organ transplantation can be a source of abuses of “human dignity.”

“The main criterion,” the Pope said, must be “respect for the life of the donor so that the removal of organs is allowed only in the presence of his actual death.”

Immediately following publication of the Pope’s address, however, the Vatican website posted articles defending the use of brain death criteria in determining death for purposes of organ transplants.

In early September, as news of the organ donor conference was starting to make the rounds of the pro-life community, L’Osservatore Romano broke ranks and published an article by Lucetta Scaraffia, a professor of contemporary history at the Rome university La Sapienza, outlining the dangers of the brain death criteria.

In response, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, backpedalled away from the position taken in the article, saying it is “not an act of the Church’s magisterium, nor a document of a pontifical organism,” and that the reflections expressed in it “are to be attributed to the author of the text, and are not binding for the Holy See.”

This week’s conference has a large task ahead in convincing the Vatican to shift direction in its support of brain death criteria. In 1985, a statement from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences upheld the use of “irreversible coma” as a legitimate criterion for a definition of death for organ removal. This was reiterated in 1989 with another statement from the same academy, reinforced with a speech by John Paul II. John Paul II reinforced this position in an address to a world congress of the Transplantation Society, on August 29, 2000.

Sandro Magister, a reporter on Vatican affairs wrote in September, “In this way, the Catholic Church in fact legitimated the removal of organs as universally practiced today on people at the end of life because of illness or injury: with the donor defined as dead after an ‘irreversible coma”‘ has been verified, even if he is still breathing and his heart is beating.”

Magister quoted Francesco D’Agostino, a professor of the philosophy of law and president emeritus of the Italian bioethics committee, and a member of the “ecclesial camp,” saying, “Lucetta Scaraffia’s thesis is present in the scientific realm, but it is distinctly in the minority.”

Dr. Paul Byrne is one of the organisers of this week’s conference, provided LifeSiteNews.com with an advance copy of his presentation. He intends to argue the case that the use of “brain death” criteria results in the removal of organs from living patients, and is tantamount to murder. To find out more about his presentation see: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/feb/09021608.html

Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Pope Warns Organ Transplant Conference of Abuses of Death Criteria

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