Essay about Brain Death and Organ Donation in Children and Adults

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Brain Death and Organ Donation in Children and Adults


Does one try to save a premature baby who has little chance of survival? When do doctors or family members decide to "pull the plug" on a loved one? When is organ donation the correct choice? Is this patient the one on which God will choose to perform a miracle? What about a postmortem delivery? Is it realistic to be able to have a child postmortem?
These questions are difficult for any of us to answer - even more so if we are dealing with a situation in which we may have to answer one or more of these questions. Yet, for some of us, these questions are all too real. If someone is considered to be in a vegetative state and the doctor determines that they are not
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To others, socializing is very important to life. And for others, communication is the key. The definition of death is "the act or fact of dying, permanent ending of all life in a person, animal, or plant" according to Webster's Dictionary. Mason defines death in terms of "irreversible failure of the cardiopulmonary system or consequently as a permanent state of tissue anoxia." (43). Another definition that should be addressed is the definition of brain death. According to Stedman's Medical Dictionary, brain death is "in the presence of cardiac activity, the permanent loss of cerebral function, manifested clinically by absence of purposive responses to external stimuli, absence of cephalic reflexes, apnea, and an isoelectric electroencephalogram for at least 30 minutes in the absence of hypothermia and poisoning by central nervous system depressants." (142). If the heart is functioning, but the cerebrum is not functioning, the patient can be declared to be brain dead. To determine if the cerebrum is functioning, doctors would analyze the responses of the patient to external stimuli, run an electroencephalogram, check for cephalic reflexes, and check respiration of the patient. Lamb states that the absence of spontaneous respiration and circulation is not a sign of death, which is determined only when the physician is satisfied that the brain has ceased to function (31). Testing for respiration and circulation are simply

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