Friday, 12 September 2008

Taking Organs from the living...

I've been asked for more information on organ transplants, brain death, and so on.

A good source is the Linacre Centre (who have a link in my sidebar). In their article on criteria for death, they comment on the problems with the (relatively) recent notion of 'brain death' as the determining criterion:

The Linacre Centre's own view is that `brain death' protocols are insufficient for establishing the death of the body: we have become increasingly convinced by evidence suggesting that integrated bodily activity can continue after `brain death' has been diagnosed. There have been documented cases of `brain dead' patients maintaining bodily functions for months or even years: pregnant women have gone through pregnancy, children have grown up and passed through puberty, etc. 3 Moreover, it is well-known to transplant teams that heartbeating donors move when organs are taken, unless they are paralysed by drugs, and that their blood pressure goes up when the incision is made. It is worth noting that some anaesthetists recommend that the supposed `cadaver' be anaesthetised when his/her organs are retrieved. Most organ donors are unaware that their hearts may be beating when their organs are taken, and that they may be pink, warm, able to heal wounds, fight infections, respond to stimuli, etc.

(from see also

The Times has reported that even this flawed measure is to be ignored in the drive to harvest spare parts from people who may (or may not) be dead. See


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