The Demise of “Brain Death”

Commentary by Dr. Paul A. Byrne, M.D.

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. (

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,2933,357463,00.html

French man began breathing on own as docs prepared to harvest his organs

Woman Diagnosed as "Brain Dead" Walks and Talks after Awakening

Vatican Newspaper: Brain Death and thus Organ Donation Must be Reconsidered

New England Journal of Medicine: ‘Brain Death’ is not Death - Organ Donors are Alive

Catholic medical authority raps ‘brain death’ criteria

Woman’s Waking After Brain Death Raises Many Questions About Organ Donation

Doctor Says about "Brain Dead" Man Saved from Organ Harvesting - "Brain Death is Never Really Death"

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Pelosi asked: Is unborn baby with human heart a ‘human being’? Responds: ‘I am a devout Catholic’

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By Dustin Siggins

Tell Nancy Pelosi: No, supporting abortion and gay 'marriage' is not Catholic. Sign the petition. Click here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 2, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, won't say whether an unborn child with a “human heart” and a “human liver” is a human being.

Pelosi, who is the Minority Leader in the House, was asked a question about the issue by CNS News at a press conference last week. The conservative news outlet asked, "In reference to funding for Planned Parenthood: Is an unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver a human being?”

Pelosi stumbled over her answer, saying, “Why don't you take your ideological questions--I don't, I don't have—”

CNS then asked her, "If it's not a human being, what species is it?”

It was then that Pelosi got back on stride, swatting aside the question with her accustomed reference to her “devout” Catholic faith.

“No, listen, I want to say something to you,” she said. “I don't know who you are and you're welcome to be here, freedom of this press. I am a devout practicing Catholic, a mother of five children. When my baby was born, my fifth child, my oldest child was six years old. I think I know more about this subject than you, with all due respect.”

“So it's not a human being, then?” pressed CNS, to which Pelosi said, “And I do not intend to respond to your questions, which have no basis in what public policy is that we do here.”

Pelosi has long used her self-proclaimed status as a “devout” practicing Catholic to promote abortion.

In response to a reporter’s question a proposed ban on late-term abortion in 2013, Pelosi said that the issue of late-term abortion is "sacred ground" for her.

"As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this," Pelosi said. "This shouldn't have anything to do with politics."

In 2008, she was asked by then-Meet the Press host David Gregory about when life begins. Pelosi said that "as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue I have studied for a long time. And what I know is that over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition....We don't know."

The Church has always taught that unborn human life is to be protected, and that such life is created at the moment of conception.

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New video: Planned Parenthood abortionist jokes about harvesting baby’s brains, getting ‘intact’ head

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By Ben Johnson

I interviewed my friend, David Daleiden, about his important work exposing Planned Parenthood's baby body parts trade on the Glenn Beck Program. David urged Congress to hold Planned Parenthood accountable and to demand the full truth. He also released never-before-seen footage showing a Planned Parenthood abortionist callously discussing how to obtain an intact brain from aborted babies.

Posted by Lila Rose on Monday, October 5, 2015


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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - In the newest video footage released by the Center for Medical Progress, a Planned Parenthood abortionist laughs as she discusses her hope of removing the intact "calvarium," or skull, of an unborn baby while preserving both lobes of the brain.

She also describes how she first dismembers babies up to twenty weeks gestation, including two twenty-week babies she said she aborted the week before.

Dr. Amna Dermish, an abortionist with Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, told undercover investigators she had never been able to remove the calivarium (skull) of an aborted child "intact," but she hopes to.

"Maybe next time," the investigator said.

"I know, right?" Dr. Dermish replied. "Well, this'll give me something to strive for."

Dermish, who performs abortions up to the 20-week legal limit in Austin, then described the method she used to collect fetal brain and skull specimens.

"If it’s a breech presentation [in which the baby is born feet first] I will remove the extremities first - the lower extremities - and then go for the spine," she began.

She then slides the baby down the birth canal until she can snip the spinal cord.

The buyer noted that intact organs fetch higher prices from potential buyers, who seek them for experimentation.

"I always try to keep the trunk intact," she said.

"I don't routinely convert to breech, but I will if I have to," she added.

Converting a child to the breech position is the first step of the partial birth abortion procedure. The procedure has been illegal since President Bush signed legislation in 2003 making it a federal felony punishable by two years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

According to CMP lead investigator David Daleiden, who debuted the video footage during an interview with Lila Rose on The Blaze TV, Dr. Dermish was trained by Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola.

Dr. Nucatola was caught on the first CMP undercover video, discussing the side industry while eating a salad and drinking red wine during a business luncheon.

Between sips, she described an abortion process that legal experts believe is a partial birth abortion, violating federal law.

“The federal abortion ban is a law, and laws are up to interpretation,” Dr. Nucatola said on the undercover footage. “So, if I say on day one that I don't intend to do this, what ultimately happens doesn't matter.”

Daleiden told Rose he hoped that Congressional investigators would continue to pressure the organization about whether the abortion technique it uses violates federal law, as well as the $60-per-specimen fee the national organization has admitted some of its affiliates receive.

Trafficking in human body parts for "valuable consideration" is also a federal felony carrying a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

"That would be enough to construct a criminal case against Planned Parenthood," Daleiden said.

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Nancy Flanders


He used to be an abortionist; now, he fights to save the lives of the preborn

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By Nancy Flanders

October 5, 2015 (LiveActionNews) -- In 1976, Dr. Anthony Levatino, an OB/GYN, graduated from medical school and was, without a doubt, pro-abortion. He strongly supported abortion “rights” and believed abortion was a decision to be made between a woman and her doctor.

“A lot of people identify themselves as pro-life or pro-choice, but for so many people, it doesn’t really touch them personally; it doesn’t impact their lives in the way that I wish it would. If nothing more than in the voting booth, if nowhere else,” said Levatino in a speech for the Pro-Life Action League. “But when you’re an obstetrician / gynecologist and you say I’m pro-choice – well, that becomes rather a more personal thing because you’re the one who does the abortions and you have to make the decision of whether you’ll do that or not.”

Levatino learned how to do first and second trimester abortions. Thirty to forty years ago, second trimester abortions were done by saline injection, which was dangerous.

"For the first time in my life, after all those years, all those abortions, I really looked, I mean I really looked at that pile of goo on the side of the table that used to be somebody’s son or daughter and that’s all I could see."

At that same time, Levatino and his wife were struggling with fertility problems and were considering adoption. They knew however, how difficult it was to adopt a newborn.

“It was the first time that I had any doubts about what I was doing because I knew very well that part of the reason why it’s difficult to find children to adopt were that doctors like me were killing them in abortions,” said Levatino.

Finally, in 1978, the couple adopted their daughter, Heather. Right after the adoption, they discovered they were expecting a baby, and their son was born just 10 months later.

Levatino describes a “perfectly happy” life at this time and says that despite those first qualms about abortion, he went right back to work performing them.

In 1981, after graduating from his residency, Levatino joined an OB/GYN practice which also offered abortions as a service. Saline infusion was the most common method for second trimester abortions at the time, but it ran the risk of babies born alive. The procedures were also expensive, difficult, and required the mother to go through labor. Levatino and his partners trained themselves to perform the D&E abortion procedure, which is used today.

In his speech, he describes what it’s like to perform the now routine procedure:

You take an instrument like this called a sopher clamp and you basically – the surgery is that you literally tear a child to pieces. The suction is only for the fluid. The rest of it is literally dismembering a child piece by piece with an abortion instrument […] absolutely gut-wrenching procedure.

Over the next four years, Levatino would perform 1,200 abortions, over 100 of them D&E, second trimester abortions.

But then everything changed. On a beautiful day in June of 1984, the family was at home enjoying time with friends when Levatino heard tires squeal. The children were in the street and Heather had been hit by a car.

“She was a mess,” he explained. “And we did everything we possibly could. But she ultimately died, literally in our arms, on the way to the hospital that evening.”

After a while, Levatino had to return to work. And one day, his first D&E since the accident was on his schedule. He wasn’t really thinking about it or concerned. To him, it was going to be a routine procedure he had done many times before. Only it wasn’t.

“I started that abortion and I took that sopher clamp and I literally ripped out an arm or a leg and I just stared at it in the clamp. And I got sick,” he explained. “But you know something, when you start an abortion you can’t stop. If you don’t get all the pieces – and you literally stack them up on the side of the table […] your patient is going to come back infected, bleeding or dead. So I soldiered on and I finished that abortion.”

But by the time the abortion was complete, Levatino was beginning to feel a change of heart:

For the first time in my life, after all those years, all those abortions, I really looked, I mean I really looked at that pile of goo on the side of the table that used to be somebody’s son or daughter and that’s all I could see. I couldn’t see what a great doctor I was being. I didn’t see how I helped this woman in her crisis. I didn’t see the 600 dollars cash I had just made in 15 minutes. All I could see was somebody’s son or daughter. And after losing my daughter this was looking very, very different to me.

Levatino stopped performing second trimester abortions but continued to provide first trimester abortions for the next few months.

“Everybody puts doctors on a pedestal and we’re all supposed to be so smart but we’re no different than anybody else,” he said.

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He realized that killing a baby at 20 weeks gestation was exactly the same as killing one at nine weeks gestation or even two weeks gestation. He understood that it doesn’t matter how big or small the baby is, it’s a human life. He has not done an abortion since February 1985 and says there is no chance he will ever perform one again.

Adamant that he would never join the pro-life movement because of the media’s portrayal of pro-lifers as crazy, he was eventually invited to a pro-life potluck dinner where he met people who he realized were intelligent volunteers who spent their time defending preborn humans.

After that, Levatino began speaking out against abortion specifically with young people, graphically describing for them what an abortion really is.

Levatino has also testified before Congress, asking our government to end legal abortion.

Reprinted with permission from Live Action News

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