“Brain death” statutes do not protect vulnerable citizens. All current legislation that establishes criteria of death based on cessation of functioning, function and functions of the brain should be repealed. Such patients have a beating heart with circulation and respiration and are not truly dead. At the very least such statutes should be amended so as: a) to substitute the words “complete destruction of the entire brain, including the brain stem” for such words as “irreversible cessation of functions of the brain”; and b) to require that the medical standards to be used be “universally accepted.”
This should be “the very least” since there is no proof that the destruction of the brain is equivalent to the death of the patient; medically speaking, such destruction is demonstrably not equivalent. There is no consensus as to which of the myriad criteria to use (Neurology 2008) and brain-related criteria are not evidenced based (Neurology 2010).
The Uniform Determination of Death Act should be rejected by all state legislatures and Congress since legalized alternative kinds of “death” which neither are nor are intended to be equivalent.
Paul A. Byrne, M.D.