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The Demise of “Brain Death”

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LifeSiteNews.com

Commentary by Dr. Paul A. Byrne, M.D.
www.thelifeguardian.org

We are bombarded with propaganda that encourages organ donation. For an organ to be suitable for transplantation it must be taken from a living person.

  Recent reports in the literature include:

  • Dr. KG Karakatsanis of Greece evaluated current clinical criteria and confirmatory tests for the diagnosis of "brain death" to determine if they satisfied the requirements for the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain including the brain stem. He reviewed medical, philosophical and legal literature on the subject of "brain death." He presented four arguments: 
    1. Many clinically ‘brain-dead’ patients maintain residual vegetative functions that are mediated or coordinated by the brain or the brainstem.
    2. It is impossible to test for any cerebral function by clinical bedside exam, because the tracts of passage to and from the cerebrum through the brainstem are destroyed or nonfunctional. Furthermore, since there are limitations of clinical assessment of internal awareness in patients who otherwise lack the motor function to show their awareness, the diagnosis of ‘brain death’ is based on an unproved hypothesis. 
    3. Many patients maintain several stereotyped movements (the so-called complex spinal cord responses and automatisms) which may originate in the brainstem.
    4. Not one of the current confirmatory tests has the necessary positive predictive value for the reliable pronouncement of human death.
    5. Conclusion: According to the above arguments, the assumption that all functions of the entire brain (or those of the brainstem) in ‘brain-dead’ patients have ceased, is invalidated. Spinal Cord (2008) 46, 396-401.
  • In the New England Journal of Medicine on 8-14-08 it was reported that infants who were not "brain dead" were pronounced dead after life support was discontinued. When there was no detected pulse for only 1.25 minutes, the heart was then excised for transplantation.
  • Dr. David Greer reported in Neurology (Jan 2008) that many highly regarded hospitals in the U.S. routinely diagnose "brain death" without following the guidelines promulgated in 1995 by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital surveyed the top 50 neurology and neurosurgery departments nationwide; 82 percent responded. Results showed that "adherence to the AAN guidelines varied widely, leading to major differences in practice, which may have consequences for the determination of death and initiation of transplant procedures. Apnea testing was omitted by 27 percent; still more distressing is that many fail to even check for spontaneous respirations.

While the apnea test can only cause a patient with a neurologic problem to get worse, it is commonly done without full and explicit consent. The test involves turning off the ventilator to determine if he can breathe on his own; and if he cannot, the result is suffocation of this living human being. The sole purpose of the apnea test is to determine that the patient cannot breathe on his own in order to declare him "brain dead." It is illogical to do this stressful, possibly lethal, apnea test on a patient who has just undergone severe head trauma. To turn off the ventilator for up to 10 minutes as part of the declaration of "brain death" risks further damage and even killing a comatose patient, who might otherwise survive and resume spontaneous breathing if treated properly.

"In plain, straight talk," writes Dr. Lawrence Huntoon, editor-in-chief of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, "the survey indicates a high likelihood that some patients are being ‘harvested’ in some hospitals before they are dead! In hospitals with aggressive transplant programs (hospitals make a huge amount of money on transplant cases), making sure a patient is dead before going to the ‘harvesting suite’ may be viewed as a minor technicality/impediment."

In the largest study in the literature known as the Collaborative Study 10 % at autopsy had no pathology in the brain. Only 27% of patients on the ventilator for 1 week had a "respirator brain." From the beginning "brain death" was not based on data that was not sufficient and acceptable scientifically for destruction of the brain much less death of the person.

Now more than ever, there is great push to kill for organs. It was reported in the news that Zack Dunlap from Oklahoma was declared dead, and a transplant team was ready to take his organs until that young man moved. Instead of a calling it a reflex (as I have been told is commonly done), the transplant team was sent away. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23768436/)

This young man did not have a destroyed brain. Nevertheless, Zack would have been truly dead had they excised his heart for transplantation. He could hear the doctors discuss his "brain death," but he could not move at that time to tell them he was alive.

Brain death" never was, and never will be true death. This has been known by neurologists and organ transplanters since the beginning of the multi-billlion industry. So if a declaration of "brain death" is not true death, but organs are taken legally in accord with "accepted medical standards," why not continue to make "acceptable" this less stringent criteria?

In the 10 years after the ad hoc Committee conjured up the Harvard Criteria, 30 more sets were reported by 1978. Every set became less stringent. Less strict sets were reported until eventually there came about a criterion that does not fulfill any of the "brain death" criteria. This is known as donation by cardiac death (DCD). Organs are obtained for transplantation by first getting a DNR order, then taking the patient off life support and waiting until the patient is without a pulse. In the past the waiting time was 10 minutes, then shortened to 5 minutes, then 4, then 2 and now in the NEJM (8-14-08) the waiting time is only 1.25 minutes until they cut out the baby’s heart.

How shameful can it get? Shame on the medical field for knowing and not protecting these patients! Shame on the transplantation organizations for valuing money over an innocent injured person’s life! Shame on the US government, other governments, and clergy for allowing and even encouraging extracting vital organs for transplantation and research! When will doctors informed of the truth stand for life instead of being political creeps?

The transplant world no longer waits for "brain death." Now the goal is to get a DNR. Then they wait until the pulse stops for as short a time as 1.25 minutes.  Organs obtained deceptively, yet legally, are called donation by brain death (DBD) and donation by cardiac death (DCD).  It is the excision of vital organs that finalizes the death of the donor.

What is going to happen when it becomes better known that "brain death" was a hoax from the beginning? Do doctors and laymen not realize that destroying human life before its natural end is a heinous crime? Do they not realize that excision of an unpaired vital organ for transplantation or research is imposed death, also known as euthanasia? Have they not been reading the papers about all those "donors" about to be sacrificed who suddenly wake up minutes before their organs were going to be extracted?

No matter how generous one might want to be by donating his own self, or vital organs from someone else to save others, suicide or homicide to save another is not morally acceptable.

See related News:
 
  Val Thomas from West Virginia wakes after heart stopped, rigor mortis set in 
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,357463,00.html

French man began breathing on own as docs prepared to harvest his organs
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25081786

Woman Diagnosed as "Brain Dead" Walks and Talks after Awakening
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/feb/08021508.html

Vatican Newspaper: Brain Death and thus Organ Donation Must be Reconsidered
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/sep/08090310.html

New England Journal of Medicine: ‘Brain Death’ is not Death - Organ Donors are Alive
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/aug/08081406.html

Catholic medical authority raps ‘brain death’ criteria
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2005/feb/05021106.html

Woman’s Waking After Brain Death Raises Many Questions About Organ Donation
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/may/08052709.html

Doctor Says about "Brain Dead" Man Saved from Organ Harvesting - "Brain Death is Never Really Death"
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/mar/08032709.html

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Newsbusters Staff

,

Disney ABC embraces X-rated anti-Christian bigot Dan Savage in new prime time show

Newsbusters Staff
By

March 30, 2015 (NewsBusters.org) -- Media Research Center (MRC) and Family Research Council (FRC) are launching a joint national campaign to educate the public about a Disney ABC sitcom pilot based on the life of bigoted activist Dan Savage. MRC and FRC contacted Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ABC Television Group, more than two weeks ago urging him to put a stop to this atrocity but received no response. [Read the full letter]

A perusal of Dan Savage’s work reveals a career built on advocating violence — even murder — and spewing hatred against people of faith. Savage has spared no one with whom he disagrees from his vitriolic hate speech. Despite his extremism, vulgarity, and unabashed encouragement of dangerous sexual practices, Disney ABC is moving forward with this show, disgustingly titled “Family of the Year.”

Media Research Center President Brent Bozell reacts:

“Disney ABC’s decision to effectively advance Dan Savage’s calls for violence against conservatives and his extremist attacks against people of faith, particularly evangelicals and Catholics, is appalling and outrageous. If hate speech were a crime, this man would be charged with a felony. Disney ABC giving Dan Savage a platform for his anti-religious bigotry is mind-boggling and their silence is deafening.

“By creating a pilot based on the life of this hatemonger and bringing him on as a producer, Disney ABC is sending a signal that they endorse Dan Savage’s wish that a man be murdered. He has stated, ‘Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.’ ABC knows this. We told them explicitly.

“If the production of ‘Family of the Year’ is allowed to continue, not just Christians but all people of goodwill can only surmise that the company Walt Disney created is endorsing violence.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins reacts:

“Does ABC really want to produce a pilot show based on a vile bully like Dan Savage?  Do Dan Savage’s over-the top-obscenity, intimidation of teenagers and even violent rhetoric reflect the values of Disney?  Partnering with Dan Savage and endorsing his x-rated message will be abandoning the wholesome values that have attracted millions of families to Walt Disney.”

Dan Savage has made numerous comments about conservatives, evangelicals, and Catholics that offend basic standards of decency. They include:

  • Proclaiming that he sometimes thinks about “f****ing the shit out of” Senator Rick Santorum

  • Calling for Christians at a high school conference to “ignore the bull**** in the Bible”

  • Saying that “the only thing that stands between my d*** and Brad Pitt’s mouth is a piece of paper” when expressing his feelings on Pope Benedict’s opposition to gay marriage

  • Promoting marital infidelity

  • Saying “Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.”

  • Telling Bill Maher that he wished Republicans “were all f***ing dead”

  • Telling Dr. Ben Carson to “suck my d***. Name the time and place and I’ll bring my d*** and a camera crew and you can s*** me off and win the argument.”

Reprinted with permission from Newsbusters

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Jacqueline Harvey

Ending the end-of-life impasse: Texas is poised to ban doctor-imposed death by starvation

Jacqueline Harvey
By Jacqueline Harvey

AUSTIN, Texas, March 30, 2015 (TexasInsider.org)  After five consecutive sessions of bitter battles over end-of-life bills, the Texas Legislature is finally poised to pass the first reform to the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) in 12 years. An issue that created uncanny adversaries out of natural allies, and equally odd bedfellows, has finally found common ground in H.B. 3074 by State Rep. Drew Springer.  

H.B. 3074 simply prohibits doctor-imposed euthanasia by starvation and dehydration.

Since H.B. 3074 includes only those provisions and language that all major organizations are on record as having deemed acceptable in previous legislative sessions, there is finally hope of ending the end-of-life impasse in the Texas Capitol.

Many would be surprised to learn that Texas law allows physicians to forcibly remove a feeding tube against the will of the patient and their family. In fact, there is a greater legal penalty for failing to feed or water an animal than for a hospital to deny a human being food and water through a tube.

This is because there is no penalty whatsoever for a healthcare provider who wishes to deny artificially-administered nutrition and hydration (AANH). According to Texas Health and Safety Code, “every living dumb creature” is legally entitled access to suitable food and water.

Denying an animal food and water, like in this January case in San Antonio, is punishable by civil fines up to $10,000 and criminal penalties up to two years in jail per offense. Yet Texas law allows health care providers to forcibly deny food and water from human beings – what they would not be able to legally do to their housecat. And healthcare providers are immune from civil and criminal penalties for denial of food and water to human beings as long as they follow the current statutory process which is sorely lacking in safeguards.

Therefore, while it is surprising that Texas has the only state law that explicitly mentions food and water delivered artificially for the purpose of completely permitting its forced denial (the other six states mention AANH explicitly for the opposite purpose, to limit or prohibit its refusal), it is not at all surprising that the issue of protecting a patient’s right to food and water is perhaps the one point of consensus across all major stakeholders.

H.B. 3074 is the first TADA reform bill to include only this provision that is agreed upon across all major players in previous legislative sessions.

There are irreconcilable ideological differences between two major right-to-life organizations that should supposedly be like-minded: Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life. Each faction (along with their respective allies) have previously sponsored broad and ambitious bills to either preserve but reform the current law (Texas Alliance for Life’s position) or overturn it altogether as Texas Right to Life aims to do.

Prior to H.B. 3074, bills filed by major advocacy organizations have often included AANH, but also a host of other provisions that were so contentious and unacceptable to other organizations that each bill ultimately died, and this mutually-agreed-upon and vital reform always died along with it.

2011 & 2013 Legislative Sessions present prime example

This 2011 media report shows the clear consensus on need for legislation to simply address the need to protect patients’ rights to food and water:

“Hughes [bill sponsor for Texas Right to Life] has widespread support for one of his bill’s goals: making food and water a necessary part of treatment and not something that can be discontinued, unless providing it would harm the patient.”

Nonetheless, in 2013, both organizations and their allies filed complicated, contentious opposing bills, both of which would have protected a patient’s right to food and water but each bill also included provisions the rival group saw as contrary to their goals. Both bills were ultimately defeated and neither group was able to achieve protections for patients at risk of forced starvation and dehydration – a mutual goal that could have been met through a third, narrow bill like H.B. 3074.

H.B. 3074 finally focuses on what unites the organizations involved rather than what divides them, since these differences have resulted in a 12 year standoff with no progress whatsoever.

H.B. 3074 is progress that is pre-negotiated and pre-approved.

It is not a fertile springboard for negotiations on an area of mutual agreement. Rather it is the culmination of years of previous negotiations on bills that all came too late, either due to the complexnature of rival bills, the controversy involved, or even both.

On the contrary, H.B. 3074 is not just simply an area of agreement; moreover, it is has already been negotiated. It should not be stymied by disagreements on language, since Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life (along with their allies) were able to agree on language in 2007 with C.S.S.B. 439. C.S.S.B. 439 reads that, unlike the status quo that places no legal conditions on when food and water may be withdrawn, it would be permitted for those in a terminal condition if,

“reasonable medical evidence indicates the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration may hasten the patient’s death or seriously exacerbate other major medical problems and the risk of serious medical pain or discomfort that cannot be alleviated based on reasonable medical judgment outweighs the benefit of continued artificial nutrition and hydration.”

This language is strikingly similar to H.B. 3074 which states, “except that artificially administered nutrition and hydration must be provided unless, based on reasonable medical judgment, providingartificially administered nutrition and hydration would:

  1. Hasten the patient’s death;
  2. Seriously exacerbate other major medical problems not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  3. Result in substantial irremediable physical pain, suffering, or discomfort not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  4. Be medically ineffective; or
  5. Be contrary to the patient’s clearly stated desire not to receive artificially administered nutrition or hydration.”

With minimal exceptions (the explicit mention of the word terminal, the issue of medical effectiveness and the patient’s right to refuse), the language is virtually identical, and in 2007 Texas Right to Life affirmed this language as clarifying that “ANH can only be withdrawn if the risk of providing ANH is greater than the benefit of continuing it.”

Texas Right to Life would support the language in H.B. 3074 that already has Texas Alliance for Life’s endorsement. Any reconciliation on the minor differences in language would therefore be minimal and could be made by either side, but ultimately, both sides and their allies would gain a huge victory – the first victory in 12 years on this vital issue.

It seems that the Texas Advance Directive Act, even among its sympathizers, has something for everyone to oppose.

The passage of H.B. 3074 and the legal restoration of rights to feeding tubes for Texas patients will not begin to satisfy critics of the Texas Advance Directives Act who desire much greater changes to the law and will assuredly continue to pursue them. H.B. 3074 in no way marks the end for healthcare reform, but perhaps a shift from the belief that anything short of sweeping changes is an endorsement of the status quo.

Rather, we can look at H.B. 3074 as breaking a barrier and indicating larger changes are possible.

And if nothing else, by passing H.B. 3074 introduced by State Rep. Drew Springer, we afford human beings in Texas the same legal access to food and water that we give to our horses. What is cruel to do to an animal remains legal to do to humans in Texas if organizations continue to insist on the whole of their agenda rather than agreeing to smaller bills like H.B. 3074.

The question is, can twelve years of bad blood and bickering be set aside for even this most noble of causes?

Reprinted from TexasInsider.org with the author's permission. 

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