Thursday, January 24, 2008

Treating the Dead and Redefining Death

From Newsweek, an article about the science of resuscitation and how our understanding of death is changing. The particular quote that captured my attention: "But if the cells are still alive, why can't doctors revive someone who has been dead for an hour? Because once the cells have been without oxygen for more than five minutes, they die when their oxygen supply is resumed."
If we can figure out how to do gradual and safe reperfusion of the cells, will this change the definition of death? This would be a incredible advance, similar to when CPR became standard practice.

In a similar vein, the International Network for the Definition of Death, an affiliate of the International Association of Bioethics, is having its 5th International Symposium, and is devoted to the discussion of the ethical and medical issues associated with:
bulletdiagnosis and differentiation of brain death, coma, and persistent vegetative state
bulletdifferentiation of anencephaly and other severe neurological deficits from brain death
bulletorgan transplantation and termination of treatment decisions for the brain-dead and neurologically impaired
bulletphilosophical issues of personhood and rights related to the status of the brain dead and neurologically impaired.

For more information on this, click here.

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