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How Brain Death is Defined

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Consider the moral, ethical, legal, medical and financial implications of the various ways that brain death may be defined. How would you define brain death? Why?

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I have provided you with information on all aspects of this question. The majority of this comes directly from published articles (references are denoted with each section) so you need to put this information in your own words and cite correctly to avoid plagiarism. The portion of how you would define brain death and why should be easy to do after reading this information. This is basically a personal perception question based on knowledge and your own beliefs (ethics). Let me know if you need any further help.

Brain Death-Brain death is defined as the irreversible loss of all functions of the brain, including the brainstem. The three essential findings in brain death are coma, absence of brainstem reflexes, and apnea. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2772257/)

Ethical Issues: Neurologists, Cardiologist, and other specialties have their opinion on what determines brain death and organ donation (organ procurement). This seems to be the most controversial dilemma when it comes to donation of organs at the wishes of the patient. Families don't understand that "brain death" and what they perceive death to be are the same and physicians do a poor job at explaining this.

"Although an early link with organ donation might give the impression that brain death was a construct designed only to facilitate donation, this is incorrect. Most importantly, the confirmation of ...

Solution Summary

With the ever-changing and advancing technologies, a person can be kept "alive" by means of mechanics and other modalities. This leaves one to question, when is a person actually dead? What constitutes a clinical diagnosis of death to where a person no longer is a component of society? Understanding the ethical, legal, medical, and financial burdens of diagnosing brain death will help lead to better family education and public understanding of a terminal diagnosis.

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Biomedical Ethics

The solution is aimed at providing guidance and direction to tackle the academic problem presented below:

What recent developments in medicine and society drive the search for a more adequate definition of death? Distinguish the main alternatives available and explain the respective considerations used to support them. What advantages and disadvantages attach to each definition, and what practical difference might it make if we select one or the other? Which definition do you defend, and why? Also, how is this discussion complicated by our increasing knowledge about different states of awareness? Use examples to clarify, including the recent Schiavo case.

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