"Brain Death" as Criteria for Organ Donation is a "Deception": Bereaved Mother
ROME, February 23, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Bernice Jones came to Rome last week to tell the world that doctors killed her son by removing his organs. "Brain death is not death" and "organ donation is very deceptive," the bereaved mother told LifeSiteNews.com in an interview on Thursday.

Mrs. Jones was attending an international conference on the dangers of so-called "brain death" criteria and related her experience of losing her son, Brandon, who was declared "brain dead" and used as an organ donor.

"Families are led to believe that their loved ones are dead," Jones told LSN, "but in fact they are alive. You must be alive to be a vital organ donor." Families, she said, are being deceived by doctors and hospital administrators, "by everyone who is involved in organ transplantation." The declaration of brain death "is a deception, a violent deception, that your loved one is dead."

Jones described what she characterized as a betrayal of principle by medical professionals at a hospital in their home state of Washington, whose priority she argued is no longer the care of the patient at hand but the procurement of organs for transplants. Although she declined to name the hospital, she said, "It happens at all hospitals."

Nine years ago, Mrs. Jones's son suffered an accidental gunshot wound to the head and was declared "brain dead" upon arrival at the hospital. He was immediately prepared for the removal of his organs.

Mrs. Jones said, "While my family and I thought that our son was being treated for his well-being, to preserve and protect his life, he was not, he was being treated to be an organ donor."

"His vital organs were being procured not for his benefit but to benefit someone else."

24 hours after the family was told Brandon was dead, Mrs. Jones had an intuition that her son was still alive. Later investigation revealed that the hospital had told the family her son was "brain dead" but, without the family's knowledge, had kept him alive on a respirator for 20 hours while flooding his body with fluids and drugs in preparation for what his mother described as a live "dissection" that brought about his death.

Legal consent, she said, was obtained while the family was in deep shock over the accident. Jones's husband signed the consent forms over her objections and the family, still in shock, was told to go home. During their time at the hospital, the family was introduced to a woman whom doctors referred to as an "organ procurement agent." This woman used what Mrs. Jones described as a standard "script," speaking soothingly to the family about Brandon's altruism and desire to help others, to induce them to sign the consent forms, copies of which were not given to the family.

Mrs. Jones was later to learn that these procedures are standard for organ retrieval. "All of the organ donor families I have spoken to received the same script," she said. Organ procurement officials approach the family when they are at their most vulnerable, she said. "It's always when you're not mentally, emotionally capable" of making an informed decision.

Prior to obtaining his organs, Brandon was given paralysing drugs to keep him from moving. He was anesthetised during the removal process. Mrs. Jones said that the diagnosis of brain death is a sham. "If he is supposed to be dead, why does he need paralysing drugs to keep him from moving? Why does he need anesthesia?"

Brandon Jones was given, without his family's consent, what is called an "apnea test" by doctors, to determine brain death. Doctors remove the ventilator for two minutes from a patient who requires assistance breathing. The heart rate decreases and after two minutes without oxygen, "brain death" is declared.

The apnea test as a diagnostic tool was specifically denounced at the conference as unethical by Dr. Cicero Coimbra, a neurologist from Sao Paolo, Brazil. The test, he said, which cuts off oxygen to the brain, will bring about severe, irreversible brain damage in patients who, with proper care, would otherwise have had a good chance of survival.

Mrs. Jones believes doctors who are motivated by the desire to obtain organs use the apnea test knowing that it will induce severe brain damage while the body is prepared for organ removal.

Despite the harm it does, the apnea test, she said, is administered without the family's consent. "We were in with our son, and they told us to leave the room, that they had to perform a test. They did not ask permission to do this."

"If a family was made aware of what an apnea test consists of, no family member would ever consent to this."

She described what happened to her son: "For two minutes they took the ventilator away from him. They wait for the pulse to go down but the heart continues to beat. Then they put the ventilator back on. Now, in this two-minute timeframe, they pronounce the patient dead.

"Before they put them back on the ventilator they pronounce the patient dead. It's a prerequisite to being able to declare a legal but fictional death." This "death" is what she has described as a "convenience death, invented to schedule and regulate the actual time of real death."

Brandon died, she claimed, while his organs, including his still-beating heart, were removed in surgery. "Our son had been dissected alive and in doing so, killed."

Mrs. Jones is the founder of an organisation of parents and families who have undergone this experience and which is dedicated to bringing to the public eye the danger of the "brain death" criteria. The Life Guardian Foundation is dedicated to educating the public that "life of the human person is a gift."

The group calls it "irreverent" to use terms such as "brain dead," "vegetative state," "terminal condition," and "imminent danger of death." "Such designations have been proposed and are actively used for the sole purpose of demeaning and shortening life, as well as to hasten the death of a human person."

Mrs. Jones said that in her research after her son's death that "there is no scientific validation for 'brain death'. Absolutely none, whatsoever."

It is incredibly dangerous and degrading to view a human person as a means, with worth in effect, rather than value each person---body and soul---as possessing infinite dignity by virtue of the love of God. Much of what is evil stems from this, from the idea that the handicapped are somehow ontologically less than the healthy to the notion that our worth as people is the measure of our productive capacity in a heartless economy.

The holistic conception of the human person is dead among us. I talk about the bodily resurrection to some family members who are nominal Christians, and they are routinely in shock. "When you're in the ground, you're in the ground," they say, or, "The body is now an empty shell." Dualism is taken to a near-Manichean extent; the flesh is an aberration. How can such a people venerate bodies of saints, kiss reliquaries?

If a saint among us were to die today, his body would be chopped up with the consent of the family, its parts circulated about the country to give medical treatment to a few, some more parts might be used in medical research, and an autopsy might be performed---everything cut out, measured, and weighed to satisfy some meticulous curiosity about cause of death even if it would be of no benefit. Autopsy now is routine, ordered by the coroner, and the state becomes the possessor of the body. Then, of course, the body would be embalmed and prettied and painted. Only then would a Catholic burial be given and a funeral mass said!

The Orthodox Jews and Muslims are openly antagonistic to both embalming and autopsy. Why are we so different?

Cyriacus Wrote:Why are we so different?

Cause we are the leaders of the Kulture of Death.
Mrs. Jones's experience sounds very much like that of friends of mine.  They were told in the middle of the night that their son was brain dead and within a few hours everything was set up for his organs to be removed and the family went home, leaving their son on life support to keep his organs in good condition.  Since his driver's license said he was an organ donor and he was over 21, I don't know if the parents had to sign any forms or if they could have said "No, don't start taking our son's organs."  But it bothers me that the hospital kept him on life support for a week, at no charge to the family, while they were lining up organ recipients.  That's thousands of dollars' worth of care being "given" and you know there's a quid pro quo.  Plus there's the  really big question: could he have lived? 

Doctors worry organ donors not dead
Feds fund project to snatch hearts from brain-injured newborns
Posted: August 15, 2008
1:00 am Eastern

2009 WorldNetDaily
A federally funded research project has described how surgeons were able to snatch the hearts from severely brain-damaged newborns only seconds after they were disconnected from life-support units and transplant the organs into other diseased infants, but the work is raising alarms from those who say the donors weren't dead yet.

The work was documented in a report in the New England Journal of Medicine today, which in an unusual move also published a series of commentaries about the study that offered harsh criticism.

"It is impossible to transplant a heart successfully after irreversible stoppage: if a heart is restarted, the person from whom it was taken cannot have been dead according to cardiac criteria. Removing organs from a patient whose heart not only can be restarted, but also has been or will be restarted in another body, is ending a life by organ removal," wrote Dr. Robert Veatch, professor of medical ethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University.
According to the published study, surgeons at Children's Hospital in Aurora, Colo., took the hearts of severely brain-damaged newborns seconds after they were disconnected from life support and their hearts stopped.

According to the report from a team led by Dr. Mark M. Boucek, at a typical children's hospital, "on any given day, between 2.2 and 10.6 children will die, with about half on life support systems.

"A child's death can be anticipated and considered within a family-centered end-of-life care plan, which can include the possibility of donation after withdrawal of life support and subsequent circulatory or cardiac death," the report said.

"The appropriate period of observation after the cessation of cardiocirculatory function and before the declaration of death has not been established. We initially used a 3-minute period after loss of cardiac function. This time was based on a recommendation of 2 minutes in the critical care literature. After the first donation, the ethics committee recommended a period of observation of 1.25 minutes to reduce the risk of injury from warm ischemia," the report said.

However, critics warned of the dangers of taking organs from donors before the traditional complete cessation of heart and brain functions that typically defines death,

"This bold experiment is pushing the boundaries and raising many questions," James Bernat, a Dartmouth medical professor, told the Washington Post. He wrote one of four commentaries that the journal published with the report.

"This clearly shows the feasibility of doing this," Bernat said. "The question is: Should this be done?"

The report noted that the changeover from waiting until brain death is confirmed to a "donation after cardiac death" procedure has potential pitfalls: one California surgeon is accused criminally of hurrying a potential organ donor's death in 2006.

The report documented the transplantation of hearts from the three infants into three other babies, ages 1 month to 4 months, who were dying of their own heart conditions. All three subsequently lived past the six-month age.

"We're very pleased with the lives we saved," Boucek said. "We're trying to deal with a very difficult situation where children die waiting for transplant and parents of other children want to donate."

But others, including George Annas of Boston University, condemned the work.

"This practice cannot be ethically justified," he told the Post. "The donors are not dead."

"The whole issue is whether the infants from whom the hearts were taken were dead. It seems very clear to me that they were not," Veatch said. "I think it's illegal, and if it's illegal, what we're talking about is the physicians causing the death of the three patients, and that would be homicide. It's immoral. I think it should be stopped."

Dr. Robert Truog, of Harvard Medical School, said it appears the door to questioning when a person is dead is wide open.

"The definition of brain death requires the complete absence of all functions of the entire brain, yet many of these patients retain essential neurologic function, such as the regulated secretion of hypothalamic hormones. Some have argued that these patients are dead because they are permanently unconscious (which is true), but if this is the justification, then patients in a permanent vegetative state, who breathe spontaneously, should also be diagnosed as dead, a characterization that most regard as implausible," he wrote.

"Others have claimed that 'brain-dead' patients are dead because their brain damage has led to the 'permanent cessation of functioning of the organism as a whole.' Yet evidence shows that if these patients are supported beyond the acute phase of their illness (which is rarely done), they can survive for many years. The uncomfortable conclusion to be drawn from this literature is that although it may be perfectly ethical to remove vital organs for transplantation from patients who satisfy the diagnostic criteria of brain death, the reason it is ethical cannot be that we are convinced they are really dead," he wrote.

He said the concept of cardiac death also has its hurdles.

"This … creates the paradox that the hearts of patients who have been declared dead on the basis of the irreversible loss of cardiac function have in fact been transplanted and have successfully functioned in the chest of another. Again, although it may be ethical to remove vital organs from these patients, we believe that the reason it is ethical cannot convincingly be that the donors are dead," he said.

He argued in the end, "proper safeguards" should allow physicians to retrieve "vital organs before death."

No patient, he said, "will die from vital organ donation who would not otherwise die as a result of the withdrawal of life support."

But Veatch warned against tampering with the standards for declaring death.

"Surely, definitions should not be changed simply to make hearts available," he said. However, "A good case can be made for letting those whose values support such a definition choose to have it applied to them."

WND has reported previously on the life-and-death issues involved in cases such as the severely disabled Terri Schiavo, who died after judges told doctors to follow her husband's orders and stop giving her food and water.

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