Technology and Death Policy: Redefining Death. The

Technology and death policy: redefining death.

The article has explained the policy issues based upon the nature of death which includes the discussion of the physician-assisted suicide as well as treatment abatement. Such practices have received wide criticism from the public and professional community, which is due to the sensitive nature of the issue. The article has focused upon the conceptual interpretation of the death, with reference to the medical technology, and has refuted the traditional concept of the death i.e. 'irreversible cessation of cardiopulmonary functions', due to the fact that the medical technology has been able to prolong and shorten the human life span. The article has referred to the applicable and possible clinical tests and examination which are carried out to verify and ascertain that whether the person has expired in reality, which has involved the interference of the technological equipments responsible for the extension of the human life. The article has discussed the general confusions and differences experienced during the medical examination i.e. The interference of the medical technology has resulted in the comprehensive study and determination of the fact that whether the body has expired or not, and such practices has influenced the extent of verification and procedural conduct which are generally conducted, solely aimed at the verification of the state of the human body. The influence of the technological equipment has mesmerized the private community, previously the bodies which were considered death solely on the basis of the physical examination are expected to contain life, the spectrum of the human life has explored with the advancement in medical technology. The definition of death has emerged as contentious issue, are the resolution of the differences and claims is not possible on technical justification and interpretation. Previously the human body was regarded as dead body, soon after the 'permanent cessation of respiration and circulation' i.e. The cessation of the heart and lungs, which was responsible for the cessation of the brain functions (Robert, 2001).

Summary: Peter Monaghan article, "The Unsettled Question of Brain Death."

Peter Monaghan has explained his opinion on the dead policy with reference to the standard practices of the developed nations. In developed countries including United States, the collapse of brain is criteria for dead body, irrespective of the fact that the human heart is operational, and the lungs are functional through natural and artificial means. The author has referred to the current practices in North America, where the organs are removed and transferred for the purpose of transplantation from brain-dead body, which is justified as per the requirements and definition of the dead body. The author has explained the difference of policy in North America and Europe, in United States upon the availability of the reasonable certainty that the deceased wished to donate his/her organs, the transplantation of the organs is legitimate, however in Europe without the documented presumed consent, the transplantation of the organs is criminal practice. The author has referred to the book written by Ms Lock, the book is a new Public Anthropology series, and has been designed 'to transform received, accepted understandings of social issues'. The author has explained the observations listed in the literature, and has referred to the practices adopted in different parts of the world. The author has observed in different parts of the world, the brain death was not granted any legal standing although the medical technologies were available, which surely enhanced and influence the life span of the individual, therefore the practice of organ transplant is rare, 'the brain-dead individuals are not considered legally dead unless they have indicated that they want to become organ donors'. The author has revealed that the power disclosure of the medical technologies, and their influence along with the reservations and confusions related to the legal understanding of the brain death made the Americans 'believe that the phenomena is scientifically deducible and verifiable'. The author has supported his claims and observation by referring to the observations marked by Ms. Lock in her article, where she claimed that there is a need to revise the previous conception of death which was purely medical, and the death was considered to be matter of biology, and it is misleading to interpret that the death and its extent are measureable (Peter, 2002).

What is the proper definition of brain death?

According to the President's Commission, the "Uniform Definition of the Death Act" was proposed which was establishment of the standards regarding the definition of the dead. According to the draft of the Act, 'An individual, who has sustained either irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards'. The definition has been approved by the American Bar Association, the American Medical Association, and the Uniform Law Commissioners.

The terminology Brain Death has been an ominous implication, and has been wrongly translated and interpreted which has been responsible for the negative fallout. The Brain death has been explained by the medical professionals as irreversible cessation of all brain activity, i.e. The brain is inactive and can not be reactivated. The determination and the extent of the brain death are based upon the conclusions which are gathered through clinical and laboratory examinations. From clinical perspective, the person is regarded as brain dead, provided that there is no spontaneous respiration, and the individual is not able to breath/respire on his own, the pupils of the individual are dilated and fixed i.e. The eye does not react to the light, and the black of eyes is wide, upon the application of the difference forces there is no evidence of noxious stimulation i.e. any painful stimulation does not provoke the individual to react, there are different manners of reacting i.e. eye blink, grimacing, and movements of any part of the body. From the clinical perspective the brain dead exhibit no signs of brain stem activity i.e. eye balls are fixed, there are no corneal reflexes, no gag reflex or cough reflex and the individual does not response to any caloric testing, such that all the 'extremities are flaccid i.e. there is no movement, no muscle tone and no reflex activity in any of the limbs and/or arms or legs. Such clinical examinations are not the sole authorization on the basis of which the body shall be regarded as clinically dead, the physician has to examine the individual and verify that the patient did not induce any opiate drugs i.e. codeine, demerol, morphine, cocaine, heroin, and barbiturate drugs i.e. phenol-barbital, secobarbital, nembutal, amytal. The brain death is verified by Cerebral angiogram examination, in which dye is injected in the arteries of the neck, the purpose of which is to reflect the arteries on the X-ray films, upon the detection of no penetration of dye into the arteries, the test is the confirmation of the blind dead, another test is also conducted for the purpose of verification which is Cerebral blood flow scan, in which non-hazardous radioactive substance is penetrated through intravenous injection, and the human head is scanned.

The brain death is confirmed provided that the two EEG's acronym of electroencephalograms or brain-wave tests taken at an interval of 24-hour show no traces electrical activity from the brain. The dead brain has never recovered, however the heart, lungs and kidneys are functional through artificial techniques for longer period of time i.e. two-three weeks (Robert, 2001).


The brain dead has always been a controversial subject, the dead has been explained as the permanent cessation of respiration and circulation. The failure of the cardio-respiratory function is responsible for the permanent collapse of the brain functions. However the medical equipment has been able to generate controversies with reference to the conventional notion of the death. The controversies were eliminated soon after the conclusion of the U.S. President's Commission were publicized in 1981, as per which 'in light of ever increasing powers of biomedical science and practice, a statute is needed to provide a clear and socially-accepted basis for making definition of death', therefore the death was to be confirmed on the basis of the 'direct cessation of brain function rather than to the indirect cessation after shutdown of the heart and lungs', which was because the failure of brain is irreparable and neurons are impossible to be re-generated, developed or replaced (Robert, 2001).

Policy defining PVS patients as brain dead: Difficulties

The medical knowledge has ignored the continuity of the treatment process of the patients under persistent vegetative state regarded as alive, the patients under such state can recover through series of treatment, however upon the failure and complete damage of cortex, the 'capacity for consciousness is irreversibly lost' (Peter, 2002). However if the brain stem is operational, the patient shall not be assumed dead rather shall be regarded as cortically dead. The cortically dead can never be retrieved from unconscious state; therefore the body is dead however the brain is still…