antiblackness   107

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4 weeks ago by DocDre
What Does It Mean to Die?
“They proposed that the irreversible destruction of the brain should be defined as death, giving two reasons: to relieve the burden on families and hospitals, which were providing futile care to patients who would never recover, and to address the fact that “obsolete criteria for the definition of death can lead to controversy in obtaining organs for transplantation,” a field that had developed rapidly; in the previous five years, doctors had performed the world’s first transplant of a pancreas, a liver, a lung, and a heart. In an earlier draft, the second reason was stated more directly: “There is great need for the tissues and organs of the hopelessly comatose in order to restore to health those who are still salvageable.” (The sentence was revised after Harvard’s medical dean wrote that “the connotation of this statement is unfortunate.”)

In the next twelve years, twenty-seven states rewrote their definitions of death to conform to the Harvard committee’s conclusions. Thousands of lives were prolonged or saved every year because patients declared brain-dead—a form of death eventually adopted by the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and most of Europe—were now eligible to donate their organs. The philosopher Peter Singer described it as “a concept so desirable in its consequences that it is unthinkable to give up, and so shaky on its foundations that it can scarcely be supported.” The new death was “an ethical choice masquerading as a medical fact,” he wrote.”
brain_death  medicine  antiblackness 
april 2018 by oceanicbeloved

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