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Catholic medical authority raps "brain death" criteria

ROME, February 7, 2005 ( - At a meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, dedicated to the discussion of organ transplants, a former president of the Catholic Medical Association has demanded a more accurate definition of when death occurs.

Current criteria used by doctors to determine "brain death"-- the point at which vital organs may be removed from a donor-- are not adequate, argued Dr. Paul Byrne. He pointed out that at the time the organs are removed, the donor's heart is beating, his body is warm, and other vital organs are still functioning, even if there is medical assistance.

"Brain death is not death," Dr. Byrne said.

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