Today people live in a society that redefines things. It redefines what an unborn child is, where life begins, and where life ends. When a culture begins to redefine life it becomes easier and easier to change what society thinks life is. The question not often asked is how does life end? Brain death is a term that has come to use in 1968 when an Ad Hoc committee from Harvard medical school decided to reinterpret 5,000 years of the accepted view on death. (Congress, 1987, p. 59) They concluded that what they called an “irreversible coma” which included a heartbeat and no brain activity was an acceptable definition of death. This consequently led to the invention of organ donation. It took many years for these two medical concepts to take root. Both are still debated by members of the medical community to this day. But now these theories are considered facts and have faced little to no questioning from their inception to now.
Definitions of Brain Death
Basing ones definition of death on what can still be questioned as theory is dangerous. The medical community has not been one to always get their facts right. Remember for hundreds of years doctors thought all disease was caused by bad blood, so they “bled” patients often to their death to cleanse them of bad blood (Bloodletting). The medical community today also condones the slaughter of millions of unborn children. Remember when people redefine truth it loses its value and consequently it can be interpreted incorrectly. While the medical community has done much good it is so easy to let things be influenced by conjecture and opinion in the scientific world. That is why it is very important people question medical practices especially when they concern human definitions of death.
The medical definition of brain death is “An irreversible form of unconsciousness characterized by a complete loss of brain function while the heart continues to beat”. (Medical) the endorsement of this definition of death was not honored by most governments until the 1980s. The initial belief is radical because from the beginning of time man has defined life by the existence of a heartbeat. The Bible teaches that life is then blood (Leviticus 17:11) therefore a biblically thinking Christian should believe life is defined by the existence of a heartbeat. While some may say that the Bible is not a proper resource it has been proven accurate in its commands and accounts about cleanliness and disease before modern scientific men even knew what bacteria was. The evidence must be weighed carefully. While the Bible is not the only resource used against organ donation, it is important to bring up because of organ donations growing acceptance among Christians. Brain death has paved the way for organ donation and if the evidence for brain death is lacking then medical practices like organ donation could have caused damage that is not repairable.
With a situation like this concerning life and death it is absolutely crucial to get the science right because the damage is usually not repairable. There is countless evidence that shows us that brain death cannot be the definite indicator as to a person’s demise. Recorded evidence of reversible brain death exists from the US National Library of Medicine with medical professionals in the case realizing brain death is not always death because of treatment with induced hypothermia (Government, 2011). Dr. Paul Byrne has dedicated most of his life addressing the issue of organ donation and brain death. He is a Certified Neonatologist and Pediatrician. He has done over twenty years of research into the topic of brain death. He has worked on case after case where patients especially infants after being declared brain dead were not denied life support and went on to live and carry on normal lives. He went to say this with this knowledge, “Death can be determined when there is no breathing, no heartbeat, no response and the body becomes cold. Before 1968 physicians did not hurry the final declaration of death in order not to declare someone dead before true death. Then the desire to transplant hearts and other vital organs prompted the invention of ‘brain death’” (Byrne, 2012, para.21) Dr. Byrne is not the only one in the medical community with this outlook. Other medical men such as Dr. Sean O’Reilly, Dr. Paul Quay, and Dr. David Evans agree. There are many medical professionals that question brain death. With all this controversy why is it taught as an accepted definition of death?
Dr. David Evans a retired physician, in response to an article about the topic of brain death wrote this, “Your explicit recognition that brain death is a recent invention for transplant purposes is most welcome and should do much to expose the fallacies and fudgings associated with this supposed new form of death, which have been hidden from public and professional view for far too long” (Evans, 2002, para.1). Doctors that support the establishment of brain death are forced to admit that the evidence for brain death is small and practically non-existent. Dr. Evans points out that the public is not aware of how little the scientific method was used to come to the conclusion of brain death. The public is not aware that a ground breaking phenomenal decision was made by a handful of men in a committee. Why is there a movement to ignore the legitimate concerns about validity of brain death? The answer lies with the result of brain death.
With brain deaths creation it has enabled the launch of organ donation. Lives have been saved by people being willing to donate their organs to replace faulty ones in others. Remember the definition of brain death is that a human can be dead with a beating heart. If brain death was not legitimate then that means the entire time we have tried to save lives we have been taking them instead. Today organ donation has been placed upon people and anyone who questions its legitimacy has to be put in their place. To question its legitimacy means genocide. It is a brutal thought, but most of these same doctors support the slaughter of innocent children in the womb. Remember if we make it easy to redefine life anything can go. It is not farfetched to say if a culture will kill its children it will kill its old and it’s dying.
If the unborn are not safe then who says that the near death are not in similar danger. The truth can be so ugly that every bone in one’s body wants to believe a lie, but that does not change reality. Dr. Paul Byrne has concluded that organ donation kills. Others join him in the realization that bad science has led to a fatal reality. When a declared brain dead patient has his organs harvested he usually has all the signs of a living person. A brain dead patient can have a pulse, normal steady body temperature, and all bodily functions. Common sense would declare this person alive. No truly dead person can urinate, have a heartbeat, and fully functioning organs. Dr. Paul Byrne has studied the process of harvesting organs. He said this “Vital organs (from the Latin vita, meaning life) include the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and pancreas. In order to be suitable for transplant, they need to be removed from the donor before respiration and circulation cease. Otherwise, these organs are not suitable, since damage to the organs occurs within a brief time after circulation of blood with oxygen stops. Removing vital organs from a living person prior to cessation of circulation and respiration will cause the donor’s death” (Vital, 2008, para.4). The basis of organ donation is the existence of brain death. So if brain death can be a proven myth then organ donation is proven murder. Lives are at stake. The medical community knows this and that is why any questioning of this practice will be met with staunch resistance from the medical community supporting this practice.
The operation the medical community uses to harvest organs has some appalling facts that come with it. Since the vital organs like the heart must be active in order to be donated, when the doctors go to “dissect” the brain dead patients the blood pressure rises and the nerves of the patient begin to send neurons in hypertension (Medscape 2003). This is not a sign of a dead person. The truth, people are having their functioning organs ripped out of their body and they can feel every second of it (Organ removal). There are countless cases of times when patients have woken up just before their organs were harvested (Harvester/TOAD, 2013). This gives cause to believe brain death is not always dead. In Europe some organ harvesters use an anesthetic while at the same time claim that brain dead patients feel no pain. (WSJ, 2012, web) This is makes no sense. In the United States no anesthetic is used but a paralyzing drug is used to insure that the body does not squirm or move during the operation. Dr. Byrne addresses the issue with this statement in an interview “That is why during the excision of vital organs, doctors find the need to use anesthesia and paralyzing drugs to control muscle spasms, blood pressure and heart rate changes, and other bodily protective mechanisms common in living patients” (CF, 2008, para.18). Genocide is all a person is left to think.
The Action to be taken
How can genocide like this happen without outcry? Remember this same medical community endorses the killing of innocent children in the millions. When people redefine truth it loses its value. What drives many away from this topic is the realization that an organ they received or an organ a loved one gave resulted in murder by the scalpel of a doctor. The pain is real and can be unbearable, but the fact remains. In 2005 the American people watched Terri Schiavo starve to death because she was considered a vegetable and in a brain dead state. Therefore she should be taken off of life support was the ruling of the judge. People do not value life because we have allowed redefinition. When we do not hold on to an absolute definition of life we can allow atrocities like organ donation, euthanasia happens publicly and unquestioned by people.
What can the people do to address organ donation? The issue is so delicate because of the emotional trauma it would cause those who have had loved ones donate or receive organs. The best thing to do is to educate all people about the real facts of organ donation to allow them to realize what happens when you sign on to donate your organs. The coercion to donate your organs is terrible considering what really happens when you donate your organs. It is best to present facts and allow people to come to their own conclusions based off of true science. Not emotional stories that attempt to justify killing one for their organs to save another, these stories lack scientific data and evidence as to what happens when someone is declared brain dead.
Science and medicine cannot be thrown out the window to accommodate the desire to believe organ donation is a good thing. A real doctor will consider the facts and make a judgment. A wise doctor will not opt to change 5,000 years of the definition of death to accommodate the rationalization of ripping vital organs out of living people. No matter how unpopular it maybe. People who stand against the system are hated because they challenge the powers that be. While it is not always appropriate to challenge the medical authority, it is appropriate to do so when there is medical authority on both sides of the topic with one screaming foul play. Is popularity and acceptance more important than speaking out against the taking of lives in the name of saving lives? The answer is no, and it will always be no. Augustine of Hippo said “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it” (Augustine, 2013, web). Truth may not always be popular but it will remain the truth regardless of what others do to cover up and hide it from the masses.
(Congress) Congress. (1987). Life-sustaining Technologies and the Elderly. Collingdale, PA: Diane Publishing Co. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=rAz4nl35KkIC&pg=PA59&dq=irreversible+coma+Harvard&as_brr=1&client=firefox-a#v=onepage&q=92.151&f=false
(Medical) Farlex. (2000). Brain Death. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. Retrieved From http://www.medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/brain+death
(Government, 2011) US National Library of Medicine. 2011. Reversible brain death after cardiopulmonary arrest and induced hypothermia.. NLM Publication number 1538-42. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21494112
(Leviticus 17:11) Leviticus 17:11. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. King James Version (KJV)
(Byrne, 2012, para. 21) Byrne, Dr. Paul. (February 16, 2012). Why are Pastoral Care Workers ignorant of the realities of “brain death”?. May 1, 2013. From http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/byrne/120216
(Evans) US National Library of Medicine. 2011. Brain death: Brain death is a recent invention. NLM Publication number 1538-42. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1124114/
(Vital, 2008, para.4) Engel, Randy. (2008). Vital Organ Transplantation
and “Brain Death”. Catholic Family News. Vol. 1, (Issue 1.) unknown Retrieved from http://www.cfnews.org/ByrneInterview.htm
(Medscape 2003) Smith, Susan L. MN, PhD. (Mar 28, 2003). Organ and Tissue Donation and Recovery. Retrieved March 1, 2013, from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/451208_10
(Organ removal) Life Guardian Foundation. (Unknown). Facts about being an Organ Donor pamphlet. Retrieved February 20, 2013, from http://www.truthaboutorgandonation.com/files/pdfs/Facts_About_Being_An_Organ_Donor.pdf
(Harvester/TOAD, 2013) Byrne, Paul A. M.D. (February 16, 2012). Why are Pastoral Care Workers ignorant of the realities of “brain death”?. February 19, 2013, from http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/byrne/120216
(WSJ) Teresi, Dick. (April 4, 2012). What You Lose When You Sign That Donor Card. February 19, 2013, from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204603004577269910906351598.html
(CF, 2008, para.18) Engel, Randy. (2008). Vital Organ Transplantation
and “Brain Death”. Catholic Family News. Vol. 1, (Issue 1.) unknown Retrieved from http://www.cfnews.org/ByrneInterview.htm
(Augustine) “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it” from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/126110-right-is-right-even-if-no-one-is-doing-it