Understanding Brain Death

Vital Distinctions in Transplantation

Organ and tissue donation can be divided into four general categories. 1.) A living person can give nonvital organs and tissues to another person without causing death, severe injury, or disabling mutilation to self. For example, one might give one of two kidneys, or bone marrow. 2.) Tissues including corneas, heart valves, bones, skin, ligaments and tendons can be taken after death, that is, after the heart is no longer beating and there is destruction of the vital systems, including circulatory, respiratory and central nervous systems. 3.) Vital organs, such as the heart, liver, lungs, pancreas, and intestine are harvested from persons declared "brain dead." Such persons are beating-heart "donors." Calling such living persons "Heart Beating Cadaver Donors" misleads the public and even members of the Academy. Can a cadaver have a beating heart and circulation? 4.) Organs are taken from "non-heart-beating donors (NHBD)." A NHBD is a living person with normal vital signs and a brain that is functioning. These persons are first taken off all life support including the ventilator. When the pulse is no longer palpated, the organs are taken. After the organs are taken, the patient is dead. The public and the Academy are continually misled. To stop a ventilator to get organs for another person is clearly evil actions.

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