Friday, October 24, 2008

How dead is dead enough for organ donation?

There's a debate catching wind down under (in Australia) about the definition of "dead" as it relates to organ donation, reports ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

According to the law, a person is dead "when they have either irreversible cessation of all functions of their brain or irreversible cessation of blood circulation." But critics claim doctors are interpreting death more casually. In practice, say the critics, a person is dead enough for organ donation if their blood stops circulating for two minutes or they're brain dead. Critics maintain neither of those conditions is actually "dead" but "close to death." And in either case, there's enough room for interpretation for mistakes to be made.

A recent article by pediatric intensive care specialist Dr. James Tibballs in the Journal of Law and Medicine sparked the recent outbreak of controversy. The Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society "strongly emphasise that this (Associate Professor Tibballs') view is an extreme minority point of view."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.