BRAIN DEATH AND THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC CENTER FOR BIOETHICS

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Christiaan Barnard
Christiaan Barnard.jpg
Born Christiaan Neethling Barnard
8 November 1922
Beaufort West, Cape Province, Union of South Africa
Died 2 September 2001 (aged 78)
Paphos, Cyprus
Education University of Cape Town
University of Minnesota
Years active 1950–2001
Known for first successful human-to-human heart transplant.
Relatives Marius Barnard
Medical career
Profession Surgeon
Institutions Groote Schuur Hospital
University of Minnesota
Specialism Cardiothoracic surgery
Heart transplantation

 

The first successfuly transplant of a human heart in 1967 raised the question of when does death occur since it is not possible to transplant a human organ from the body of a dead person, the donor person must be alive.  This problem brought a conference of interested medical professional and bioethicists at Harvard University in 1968. that conference produced a definition of death that was linked to “brain waves.”  When the level of brain activity as measured by electric instruments declined to a certain level the donor person we declared to be dead even though the persons heart and lungs were still functioning.  The debate about the validity of “brain death” has grown more intense over the years.  Many leading Catholic ethicists reject brain death as a reliable sign of death.  Among those who reject brain death as evidence of death is Doctor Paul Byrne, an eminent neurosurgeon.

The use of brain death as proof of death has increasingly come under fire as the multi-billion dollar organ transplant industry is seen to profit by the use of brain death as the definition of death.  There is a clear conflict of interest in the harvesting of organs from persons who maybe “brain dead” but who are otherwise still living.

 

 

 Radio Debate on Brain Death Now Available Online

 

If you missed last night’s spirited debate between NCBC President, Dr. John Haas, and Paul Byrne, M.D., never fear! Their discussion on the topic of brain death is now available on the website of the Kresta in the Afternoon show on Ave Maria Radio’s website. To stream the archived version of the program, please click HERE, scroll to the media player labelled “January 8, 2014 Hour 2,” click play and (after a brief ad from Ave Maria), scroll to minute 22:25.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
This entry was posted in BRAIN DEATH, EUTHANASIA, HEALTH CARE, LIFE ISSUES, MEDICAL-MORAL PROBLEMS, MORAL RELATIVISM, NUTRITION AND HYDRATION, ORGAN DONATION, POLITICAL LIFE IN AMERICA, RELATIVISM, SAVING CHILDREN, THE RIGHT TO LIFE and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.