By Hilary White, Rome correspondent
ROME, February 23, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Bernice Jones came to Rome last week to tell the world that doctors killed her son by removing his organs. "Brain death is not death" and "organ donation is very deceptive," the bereaved mother told LifeSiteNews.com in an interview on Thursday.
Mrs. Jones was attending an international conference on the dangers of so-called "brain death" criteria and related her experience of losing her son, Brandon, who was declared "brain dead" and used as an organ donor.
"Families are led to believe that their loved ones are dead," Jones told LSN, "but in fact they are alive. You must be alive to be a vital organ donor." Families, she said, are being deceived by doctors and hospital administrators, "by everyone who is involved in organ transplantation." The declaration of brain death "is a deception, a violent deception, that your loved one is dead."
Jones described what she characterized as a betrayal of principle by medical professionals at a hospital in their home state of Washington, whose priority she argued is no longer the care of the patient at hand but the procurement of organs for transplants. Although she declined to name the hospital, she said, "It happens at all hospitals."
Nine years ago, Mrs. Jones’s son suffered an accidental gunshot wound to the head and was declared "brain dead" upon arrival at the hospital. He was immediately prepared for the removal of his organs.
Mrs. Jones said, "While my family and I thought that our son was being treated for his well-being, to preserve and protect his life, he was not, he was being treated to be an organ donor."
"His vital organs were being procured not for his benefit but to benefit someone else."
24 hours after the family was told Brandon was dead, Mrs. Jones had an intuition that her son was still alive. Later investigation revealed that the hospital had told the family her son was "brain dead" but, without the family’s knowledge, had kept him alive on a respirator for 20 hours while flooding his body with fluids and drugs in preparation for what his mother described as a live "dissection" that brought about his death.
Legal consent, she said, was obtained while the family was in deep shock over the accident. Jones’s husband signed the consent forms over her objections and the family, still in shock, was told to go home. During their time at the hospital, the family was introduced to a woman whom doctors referred to as an "organ procurement agent." This woman used what Mrs. Jones described as a standard "script," speaking soothingly to the family about Brandon’s altruism and desire to help others, to induce them to sign the consent forms, copies of which were not given to the family.
Mrs. Jones was later to learn that these procedures are standard for organ retrieval. "All of the organ donor families I have spoken to received the same script," she said. Organ procurement officials approach the family when they are at their most vulnerable, she said. "It’s always when you’re not mentally, emotionally capable" of making an informed decision.
Prior to obtaining his organs, Brandon was given paralysing drugs to keep him from moving. He was anesthetised during the removal process. Mrs. Jones said that the diagnosis of brain death is a sham. "If he is supposed to be dead, why does he need paralysing drugs to keep him from moving? Why does he need anesthesia?"
Brandon Jones was given, without his family’s consent, what is called an "apnea test" by doctors, to determine brain death. Doctors remove the ventilator for two minutes from a patient who requires assistance breathing. The heart rate decreases and after two minutes without oxygen, "brain death" is declared.
The apnea test as a diagnostic tool was specifically denounced at the conference as unethical by Dr. Cicero Coimbra, a neurologist from Sao Paolo, Brazil. The test, he said, which cuts off oxygen to the brain, will bring about severe, irreversible brain damage in patients who, with proper care, would otherwise have had a good chance of survival.
Mrs. Jones believes doctors who are motivated by the desire to obtain organs use the apnea test knowing that it will induce severe brain damage while the body is prepared for organ removal.
Despite the harm it does, the apnea test, she said, is administered without the family’s consent. "We were in with our son, and they told us to leave the room, that they had to perform a test. They did not ask permission to do this."
"If a family was made aware of what an apnea test consists of, no family member would ever consent to this."
She described what happened to her son: "For two minutes they took the ventilator away from him. They wait for the pulse to go down but the heart continues to beat. Then they put the ventilator back on. Now, in this two-minute timeframe, they pronounce the patient dead.
"Before they put them back on the ventilator they pronounce the patient dead. It’s a prerequisite to being able to declare a legal but fictional death." This "death" is what she has described as a "convenience death, invented to schedule and regulate the actual time of real death."
Brandon died, she claimed, while his organs, including his still-beating heart, were removed in surgery. "Our son had been dissected alive and in doing so, killed."
Mrs. Jones is the founder of an organisation of parents and families who have undergone this experience and which is dedicated to bringing to the public eye the danger of the "brain death" criteria. The Life Guardian Foundation is dedicated to educating the public that "life of the human person is a gift."
The group calls it "irreverent" to use terms such as "brain dead," "vegetative state," "terminal condition," and "imminent danger of death." "Such designations have been proposed and are actively used for the sole purpose of demeaning and shortening life, as well as to hasten the death of a human person."
Mrs. Jones said that in her research after her son’s death that "there is no scientific validation for ‘brain death’. Absolutely none, whatsoever."
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
The Demise of "Brain Death": Commentary by Dr. Paul A. Byrne, M.D.