Donation After "Brain Death" (DBD)
After the ad hoc committee of Harvard medical school redefined irreversible coma as death in 1968, their recommendations were codified into law in 1981 as the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA). The UDDA defines brain death as the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brainstem.
However, in actual medical practice, only the brainstem is tested, and only with a bedside physical exam. No specialized tests such as an EEG or cerebral blood flow test are required by this law.
We contend that the “brain dead” organ donor is biologically alive
The UDDA criteria have remained controversial. Most recently, the Center for Bioethics at Harvard medical school held a conference in 2018 to re-evaluate the 50-year legacy of their redefinition of death. The consensus of the conference was that the UDDA is best used as a legal instrument to represent death in the US, not as a way to describe death as a biological occurrence.
We affirm that the “brain dead” organ donor is biologically alive, and the Harvard conference participants agree with us. Thus, it is morally reprehensible to use these biologically alive people as a source of spare parts. So called “brain death” is a legal fiction, and we need to protect these vulnerable people from being brutally murdered by the harvest of their organs, often without the benefit of adequate anesthesia.