… The truth behind organ donation & organ transplants
by Dr David W Evans
EDITOR —Your explicit recognition that “brain death” is a recent invention for transplant purposes is most welcome and should do much to expose the fallacies and fudgings associated with this supposed new form of death, which have been hidden from public and professional view for far too long. (1) …
The review to which you refer notes the cultural emphasis of Margaret Lock’s study. (2) More detailed consideration of the philosophical and scientific aspects will be found in the anthology by Potts et al, which was not available to Lock when she was writing. (3) Since then, thanks to the excellent rapid response facility provided by bmj.com, the most significant development has been the wide dissemination of knowledge about the dangers of the apnoea test (which is a crucial element in the schedule of tests laid down by the Department of Health for the diagnosis of “brain stem death” or “death for transplant purposes”). Thanks, particularly, to the work of Coimbra, it is now clear that apnoea testing may exacerbate the brain damage and even prove lethal. (4) That being so, and bearing in mind that the test can be of no possible therapeutic benefit to the patient so tested, its use is clearly unethical.…
1. Editor’s choice. Deep fears. BMJ 2002;324(7348). (8 June.)
2. Gray C. “Twice dead: organ transplants and the reinvention of death” by Margaret Lock [reviewed] BMJ. 2002;324:1401.
3. Potts M, Byrne PA, Nilges R, editors. Beyond brain death—the case against brain based criteria for human death. Dordrecht: Kluwer; 2000.
4. Coimbra CG. Implications of ischemic penumbra for the diagnosis of brain death. Braz J Med Biol Res. 1999;32:1479–1487. [PubMed]
(Extract from “Brain death is a recent invention”, David W Evans, retired physician, BMJ. 2002 September 14; 325(7364): 598. Viewed Dec 18, 2010 at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1124114/ )