Friday, September 16, 2011

Doubts About Brain Death?

The Catholic Church has long acknowledged the role of the medical professional in declaring death.

It is the proper competency of medicine, not theology, to identify reliable signs that death has occurred. The hardening of the body known as rigor mortis, for example, is a reliable medical indicator that death has occurred. When the heart permanently stops beating and the lungs permanently stop functioning
(cessation of cardio-pulmonary function), medical professionals recognize these signs as another reliable way to assess that death has occurred. The complete and irreversible loss of all brain function (commonly known as "brain death,") is yet another reliable way medical professionals determine that a patient has died.

In an August 2000 address, Pope John Paul II took up the particular question of brain death and concluded: "The criterion adopted in more recent times for ascertaining the fact of death, namely the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity, if rigorously applied, does not seem to conflict with the essential elements of a sound anthropology." ...

Nevertheless, a certain number of Catholics today insist that brain death is not really death. One moral theologian, for example, recently expressed doubts "that ventilator-sustained brain dead bodies are corpses." Several Catholic physicians have raised similar concerns. As long as thorough and accurate medical testing is performed, however, the Church continues to support the determination of death based on neurological criteria. In addition to Pope John Paul II's address mentioned earlier, a number of other Church documents and declarations affirm this. These include statements from the Pontifical Academy of Life, the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers, and the Pontifical Academy for Sciences, among others. In a recent article on the Catholic News Agency website, Dr. John Haas argues that the number and common thread of these ecclesiastical statements in recent years indicates that the teaching authority of the Church has "generally resolved" the question of the acceptability of relying on neurological criteria as a means for ascertaining death.

The fact remains that the Catholic Church to date has expressed no official doubts about brain death, emphasizing instead that a health care worker can use neurological criteria as the basis for arriving at "moral certainty" that death has occurred.

In the face of clear church teaching on this issue, Dr. Haas further observes how it is not responsible for Catholics to generate uncertainty by openly and publicly disputing the suitability of neurological criteria for determining death....

Meanwhile, the Church continues to recognize the generous nature of freely-chosen organ donation, an act Pope John Paul II once called "particularly praiseworthy" and an act which can offer "a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick who sometimes have no other hope."

by FATHER TAD PACHOLCZYK, Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk is a member of the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center. (CERC)

1 comment:

Truly Catholics said...

Please read this article from Catholic Education Resource Center
and this:
and this:
and this:
and this statement: "While US law equates brain death with cardiopulmonary death, specific criteria are not mandated [3]. Some states and institutions have specific diagnostic mandates, especially when applied to organ donor candidates. Most clinicians rely on published guidelines [4,5]. However, a 2007 survey of prominent neurologic institutions in the United States found that there was considerable variability in adherence to published guidelines and clinical practice [6]. Variable documentation of brain death criteria was also observed in a series of 142 children referred for organ donation [7]. " from this website with documented footnotes:
It's no where NEAR as simple as you seem to believe. Please look at the links carefully to see that there are obvious problems with this diagnosis. - PARTICULARLY that ANY M.D. (podiatrist, ophthalmologist, orthopedist) can diagnose "brain death" and, after that diagnosis, there is NO RECOURSE for the patient or their family. In many states, he organs are taken - and the default is donation. ONLY written objectives for NOT donating must be followed. If there is no WRITTEN decision - they get to take the organs. This article also gives valid arguments against the "moral certainty" clause - because that cannot be ascertained CORRECTLY! Please! read AT LEAST these linked documents. and you'll see that there is much more money for the hospital, the surgeons and the transplant teams (for BOTH the donor and the recipient) for it NOT to be intensely researched and halted until the criteria is STANDARD throughout the WORLD! (as is decomposition and rigor mortis)