Brain death--an opposing viewpoint

JAMA. 1979 Nov 2;242(18):1985-90. doi: 10.1001/jama.242.18.1985.


Recent and proposed legislation to establish "brain-related" criteria of death has uniformly confounded irreversible cessation of total brain function with the death of the human person. Much of the confusion comes from widespread misunderstanding of how the word "death" is used and what it means. Cessation of total brain function, whether irreversible or not, is not necessarily linked to total destruction of the brain or to the death of the person. Further, to take vital organs or to otherwise treat people as though they were dead already on the basis of these recent criteria is morally unacceptable to most Orthodox Jews and Christians.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Death*
  • Catholicism
  • Christianity
  • Death*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Humans
  • Judaism
  • Legislation, Medical
  • Morals
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • United States