LifeSiteNews.com

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

LifeSiteNews.com
LifeSiteNews.com

By Hilary White

CHARLESTON, West Virginia, May 27, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Virginia family was shocked but relieved when their mother, Val Thomas, woke up after doctors said she was dead. 59 year-old Mrs. Thomas, while being kept breathing artificially, had no detectable brain waves for more than 17 hours. The family were discussing organ donation options for their mother when she suddenly woke up and started speaking to nurses. Ethicists have strongly criticized developments in organ donation criteria that would have made Mrs. Thomas a candidate for having her organs removed before she woke up.

  At 1:30 am Saturday May 17, Mrs. Thomas’ heart had stopped beating and she had no pulse when the family called paramedics. She was without a heartbeat or oxygen for 15 to 20 minutes before being put on a ventilator and transported to a Charleston, West Virginia hospital.

  An attempt was made to lower her body temperature but her heart stopped three times causing doctors to estimate that her chance of survival was less than 10 per cent. The ventilator was kept running for nearly 18 hours and rigor mortis had set in while Mrs. Thomas’ family considered organ donation. The decision was taken to discontinue life support but ten minutes into the process, Mrs. Thomas moved her arm and began speaking to nurses.

  Mrs. Thomas is being examined in a clinic in Cleveland to investigate her heart problems.

  Physicians, bioethicists and governments continue to debate the issue of brain death criteria for purposes of organ transplants and determining the exact moment of death has been a source of contention since organ transplants became common. Controversy continues to swirl around the issue as patients in apparently hopeless comatose conditions continue to confound doctors’ expectations and awaken.

  The problem is time and the rapid deterioration of most vital organs after the cessation of heart function. After death, corneas and bone marrow can still be used but soft vital organs such as the heart, lungs, pancreas and kidneys rapidly deteriorate and are unusable within a few hours. Traditional medical ethicists contend that soft and easily damaged organs such as the heart are impossible to obtain morally since they deteriorate more quickly and must be removed when a patient’s condition is still disputed. 

  One of the most recent and contentious developments is the concept of "non-heart beating organ donation" (NHBD) in which organs are removed from a body as little as five minutes after the cessation of the heart function. In a facility where such criteria are followed, had other factors been favourable and given her lack of brain function, Mrs. Thomas might have been pronounced dead and been a candidate for removal of organs as soon as she arrived at the hospital.

  The procedure is also known as donation after cardiac death (DCD), and typically involves a person who requires a ventilator and, while having measurable brain function, is determined to have no hope of recovery. After this judgement is made, doctors remove ventilation from the patient and wait for the heart to stop beating. If the heart stops for five minutes, death is pronounced and the organs are harvested by another surgical team.

  The definition of "brain death" also remains controversial, but DCD is even more contested since the method leaves little time for ethical considerations. With "brain death" organs can be harvested at leisure since machines keep air flowing into the lungs and blood circulating; with DCD the stoppage of the heart necessitates very quick harvesting as organs deteriorate without blood flow.

  Doctor John B. Shea, medical advisor to Canada’s Campaign Life Coalition told LifeSiteNews.com that DCD does represent a potential threat to comatose patients.

  Donors for DCD are chosen, he said, not because they are dead, but because their organs are particularly desirable for transplant. Dr. Shea said in a 2006 interview, "The typical scenario for such organ harvesting is a young person between the age of 5-55 who is in good health, is in intensive care due to an automobile accident and is on a ventilator.  The doctor makes an arbitrary decision that treatment is futile."

"Those donors are known not to be brain dead but are usually first in a coma and the doctor decides treatment is futile."

  See dramatic YouTube video of news report on Thomas’s return from brain death
  http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=zbaiC9N6bGU&feature=user

  Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

  Controversial Organ Donation Method Begins in Canada - Organs Extracted 5 Minutes after Heart Stops
  http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/jun/06062707.html

  Organ Transplant Doctor Investigated in Non-Heart Beating Donation Case
  http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/mar/07030903.html

Red alert! Last call.

Please support fearless pro-life and pro-family reporting. Donate to our summer campaign today.


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
Shutterstock.com
Brian Brown

,

Supreme Court betrays us with illegitimate marriage ruling

Brian Brown
By Brian Brown

June 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Though expected, today's decision is completely illegitimate. We reject it and so will the American people. It represents nothing but judicial activism, legislating from the bench, with a bare majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court exercising raw political power to impose their own preferences on marriage when they have no constitutional authority to do so. It is a lawless ruling that contravenes the decisions of over 50 million voters and their elected representatives. It is a decision that is reminiscent of other illegitimate Court rulings such as Dred Scott and Roe v Wade and will further plunge the Supreme Court into public disrepute.

Make no mistake about it: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and countless millions of Americans do not accept this ruling. Instead, we will work at every turn to reverse it.

Urge Congress to pass a marriage protection amendment now. Sign the petition!

The US Supreme Court does not have the authority to redefine something it did not create. Marriage was created long before the United States and our constitution came into existence. Our constitution says nothing about marriage. The majority who issued today's ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority.

In his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Dr. Martin Luther King discussed the moral importance of disobeying unjust laws, which we submit applies equally to unjust Supreme Court decisions. Dr. King evoked the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that an unjust law or decision is one that is "a human law that is not rooted in eternal law or natural law."

Today's decision of the Supreme Court lacks both constitutional and moral authority. There is no eternal or natural law that allows for marriage to be redefined.

This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has issued an immoral and unjust ruling. In 1857, the Court ruled in the infamous Dred Scott v Sandford case that African Americans could not become citizens of the United States and determined that the government was powerless to reject slavery. In 1927 the Court effectively endorsed eugenics by ruling that people with mental illness and other "defectives" could be sterilized against their will, saying "three generations of imbeciles are enough." And in Roe v Wade, the Court invented a constitutional right to abortion by claiming it was an integral element of the right to privacy. Over 55 million unborn babies have died as a result.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

We urge the American people and future presidents to regard today's decision just as President Abraham Lincoln regarded the Dred Scott ruling when he said in his first inaugural address that "if the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made…the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."

Today's decision is by no means the final word concerning the definition of marriage; indeed it is only the beginning of the next phase in the struggle. NOM is committed to reversing this ruling over the long term and ameliorating it over the short term. Specifically:

  1. We call on Congress and state governments to move immediately to protect the rights of people who believe in the truth of marriage from being discriminated against by passing the First Amendment Defense Act through Congress, and similar legislation in the various states.
  2. We also call on Congress to advance to the states for consideration a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage in the law as it has existed in reality for the entirety of our nation's existence – the union of one man and one woman.
  3. We call on the American people to make the definition of marriage a pivotal issue in the 2016 presidential contest and to elect a president who will be a true champion for marriage, one who is committed to taking specific steps to restoring true marriage in the law including appointing new justices to the Supreme Court who will have the opportunity to reverse this decision.
  4. NOM will work tirelessly along with allies to help change the culture so that Americans have a better understanding of the importance of marriage to children, families and society as a whole.

While today's decision of the Supreme Court is certainly disappointing, it is not demoralizing to those of us who fervently believe in the truth of marriage and its importance to societal flourishing. Indeed, the decision will be energizing. Just as the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v Wade infused the pro-life movement with new energy and commitment, so too will the decision today reawaken the American people to join the marriage movement.

Our prayer for America is that today's injustice can be corrected quickly, sparing the nation decades of anguish of the kind that has followed the Court's decision in Roe.

Advertisement
Featured Image
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

,

Gay ‘marriage’ ruling opens door to polygamy and religious persecution: Dissenting justices

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The Supreme Court's conservative justices lambasted today's majority opinion that the U.S. Constitution grants an inalienable right to same-sex “marriage,” emphasizing the threat the opinion poses to religious liberty, the democratic process, and the institution of marriage even as it is redefined.

In a series of scathing dissents, each of the High Court's four conservative justices took apart Justice Anthony Kennedy's Obergefell v. Hodges decision piece-by-piece.

Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, wrote that “the majority fails to provide even a single sentence explaining” how the 14th Amendment applies to redefining marriage.

“The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent,” he wrote. “There is, after all, no 'Companionship and Understanding' or 'Nobility and Dignity' Clause in the Constitution.”

Instead, the court ignored its own precedent in the 1972 Baker v. Nelson case, which ruled there is no constitutional right to homosexual “marriage.”

Urge Congress to pass a marriage protection amendment now. Sign the petition!

In a separate dissent, Justice Scalia called the decision a “judicial Putsch” that is “lacking even a thin veneer of law.” He described the majority's often flowery language as “the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

Roberts said the opinion took an “unprincipled approach” that he likened to the Dred Scott decision, which ratified slavery on the eve of the Civil War.

While all of the dissenting justices warned that the decision usurped the role of the people in a democratic government, each made his own distinctive critiques, as well.

Justice Roberts warned that today's ruling was not comparable to striking down laws against interracial marriage, because at no time was the ethnicity of the spouses considered a defining factor of marriage itself.

He also warned that by changing the fundamental definition of marriage, the justices had opened the door to redefining other vital components of matrimony. “It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” he wrote.

Justice Thomas wrote that the opinion holds “potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.” Recognizing the threat that the government may revoke the tax-exempt status of religious institutions, Thomas added that “the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious property.”

The traditional American view of limited government was another casualty, he wrote. “Our Constitution — like the Declaration of Independence before it — was predicated on a simple truth: One’s liberty, not to mention one’s dignity, was something to be shielded from — not provided by — the state.”

Justice Samuel Alito alone said that marriage existed for the sake of procreation and child-rearing. The majority opinion is based on ideas of romantic love, he wrote. “This understanding of marriage, which focuses almost entirely on the happiness of persons who choose to marry, is shared by many people today, but it is not the traditional one. For millennia, marriage was inextricably linked to the one thing that only an opposite-sex couple can do: procreate.”

All of the justices had a similar concern, though: The decision substitutes the views of five unelected justices for the democratic process, much as Roe v. Wade did for abortion in 1973.

“If a bare majority of justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate,” Justice Alito wrote in his dissent.

He concluded, “All Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority’s claim of power portends.”

Advertisement
Featured Image
Pro-traditional marriage activists march to the Supreme Court at the annual March for Marriage in Washington D.C. on March 26, 2013. American Life League
The Editors

, ,

John-Henry Westen: U.S. Supreme Court rules against God and human nature

The Editors
By

LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen, who also co-founded the international organization Voice of the Family, released the following statement today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to require states to uphold same-sex "marriage".

Today, the Supreme Court undermined marriage, effectively making it open season on religious liberty in America -- and providing the Court's blessing to a redefinition of marriage that is opposed to the Will of God, basic human nature, and the U.S. Constitution.

With its decision, the Court has found a "civil right" where none exists. Thanks to the Supreme Court's majority, LGBT activists and their allies are now free to continue their state-sanctioned discrimination against social conservatives. In fact, they have been empowered to do so. This is no surprise, however, as such policies have become the norm in the Obama administration and in states across the nation, where state-sanctioned discrimination against religious and social conservatives is fully accepted.

Perhaps the worst consequence of the Court's decision is its promotion of damaging sexual relationships -- which are, like discrimination, now empowered all across America. Contrary to what the Court's liberals and many other judges believe, opposition to redefining marriage is based upon love -- the kind of tough love that requires a parent to tell their child to not play in traffic, or to get good grades.

Urge Congress to pass a marriage protection amendment now. Sign the petition!

Science has proven that sexual relationships between persons of the same-sex, as opposed to the God-ordained man-woman marital relationships, cause terrible harm to those in them. To quote former leading Canadian LGBT activist Gens Hellquist, speaking to government officials a few years after marriage was redefined in Canada:

We have one of the poorest health statuses in this country. Health issues affecting queer Canadians include lower life expectancy than the average Canadian, suicide, higher rates of substance abuse, depression, inadequate access to care and HIV/AIDS.

There are all kinds of health issues that are endemic to our community. We have higher rates of anal cancer in the gay male community, lesbians have higher rates of breast cancer.

Hellquist closed his testimony by saying that he was "tired of watching my community die." In this country, the Centers for Disease Control has shown that while men who have sex with men are perhaps two percent of the U.S. population, they make up nearly two-thirds of all HIV/AIDS victims.

Similarly, social science -- especially the work of Dr. Mark Regnerus and Dr. Paul Sullins -- has shown that children raised by same-sex parents are more emotionally damaged than their counterparts raised in homes led by a mom and a dad.

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook