(LifeSiteNews) — The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) has voted not to adopt a proposed revision to the standard definition of “brain death” that could have opened the door to avoidable deaths and the killing of savable patients to harvest their organs, but a prominent neurological institution is promoting the rejected standards anyway.
The federal Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) declares that an individual has suffered “ brain death/death by neurologic criteria” (BD/DNC) if he or she has “sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead.”
Earlier this year, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) proposed a revision that, according to Dr. Heidi Klessig, “would seek to replace the term irreversible in the standards with the term permanent,” opening the door to conditions that are only permanent if “no attempt will be made to reverse the situation”; “narrow down the definition of brain death from ‘the entire brain’ to just selected functions of the brain stem that can easily be tested at the bedside”; “standardize the brainstem testing protocol”; and “eliminate the necessity for obtaining consent prior to testing for brain death,” a test which “has absolutely no value for the brain-injured patient and can only cause harm to a patient not yet declared brain-dead.”
But the ULC has since voted against adopting the revision, according to Texas Right to Life. The group previously wrote the ULC warning that the proposed language was “inexusably subjective” and noting that its “Patient Advocacy team has personally assisted multiple families as they navigate brain death cases in Texas hospitals. In a few of those cases, a physician or neurologist retracted a brain death declaration after determining that the patient did in fact exhibit signs of life, such as continued brain functioning.”
“The ULC’s decision to heed these voices in the medical and Pro-Life communities is an undeniable victory for vulnerable patients, especially those who are victims of a premature brain death diagnosis,” Texas Right to Life says.
However, on October 23 Klessig wrote that the AAN released its own proposed guidelines containing “most” of the language the ULC had rejected, including use of “permanent” rather than “irreversible,” and the term “brain as a whole,” a new and not-fully-finalized criterion under which “people can be declared dead while parts of the brain are still working, as evidenced by electrical activity on EEG or continued functioning of the hypothalamus.”
Further, the panel that decided on the guidelines was, according to AAN, “specifically screened to exclude those individuals … whose profession and intellectual bias would diminish the credibility of the guideline in the eyes of intended users.” Klessig takes this to mean that “doctors with a different viewpoint were explicitly excluded from the panel.”
“Are we ready to say enough is enough?” she asks. “Death is not whatever an echo chamber of experts says it is. The criteria for brain death have been revised repeatedly without scientific evidence. The diagnosis itself is a self-fulfilling prophecy: most people diagnosed with BD/DNC very quickly have their support withdrawn or become organ donors. It’s time to scrap these conjectured AAN guidelines and return to the traditional definition of death: cessation of cardiopulmonary function.”