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Issues Law Med. 2009 Summer;25(1):3-14.

Brain death: can it be resuscitated?

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  • 1David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, USA.


Why is a patient with a destroyed brain considered dead rather than moribund and irreversibly comatose? The world has been grappling with this question for the past four decades with little success. The recently released white paper of the President's Council on Bioethics is in many respects a refreshing, thoughtful, and comprehensive reexamination of this complex topic. It offers a very helpful analysis of the major positions on the determination of death, and it proffers a creative new solution of its own. Unfortunately, the new solution does not put the problem to rest, but the humility with which the council discusses its own position and the honesty with which it confronts the consequences of being wrong alone make this report a very commendable document.

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