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Pre-recording Complete for the March 9 Interview

On March 04, 2024, Heidi and Chris pre-recorded their interview about The Brain Death Fallacy. The interview will officially air on Saturday, March 09, 2024, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EDT). To listen to the program, go to or call 1-585-652-0611 (press 1).

Below is a foretaste of some of the questions and answers.

Chris: Is it possible to evaluate “all the functions of the entire brain, including the brainstem,” the standard required by today’s definition of death?

Heidi: In actual practice, there is no way to test all functions of the entire brain, chiefly because modern medicine has no tests for consciousness. Doctors can only test if patients are able and willing to respond. There are many conditions in which people are inwardly conscious but unable to respond. Patients such as Zack Dunlap and Jennifer Hamann, who recovered from a “brain death” diagnosis, have horrifying memories of hearing their doctors declaring them to be brain dead. They wanted to respond but could not.

Chris: When autopsies are performed on the brains of people who die from Alzheimer’s disease, there is shrinkage of the brain and a “loosening” of brain tissue. Are there similar findings when autopsies are performed on people declared brain dead?

Heidi: In 1971-2, the National Institute of Neurological Diseases, Communicative Disorders, and Stroke performed an autopsy study to evaluate the brains of people who had been declared “brain dead.” Less than half (forty percent) showed total brain infarction and destruction, and ten were grossly normal at autopsy. The investigators concluded that “it was not possible to verify that a diagnosis made before cardiac arrest by any set of subset of criteria would invariably correlate with a diffusely destroyed brain.” They wrote that “brain death” was possibly a fatal prognosis, but it was not death.

Chris: What should a pathologist expect to see during an autopsy if the brain is no longer alive? 

Heidi: Death is characterized by processes of destruction and decay, and extensive neuronal destruction is what is seen at autopsy in patients who are biologically dead. If you want the technical description, the pathologic picture of total brain infarction is a swollen, very soft brain with mottled cyanotic discoloration with congested veins on the surface associated with blood clotting in the dural sinuses. Microscopically, there are diffuse hemorrhagic infarcts throughout.

Chris: How do medical doctors know if the “irreversible cessation standard” is met?

Heidi: The old standard of destruction was much more apparent. The person would stop breathing, his heart would stop beating, and he would become cold, gray, and stiff and would eventually show signs of putrefaction. The new standard is based on function rather than destruction. The person has lost specific abilities, and doctors can only make an educated guess as to whether those abilities might return. We have a long list of people who survived a “brain death” diagnosis on our website because doctors were wrong about “irreversible.”

Be sure to tune in on Saturday, March 09, 2024, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EDT). To listen to the program, go to or call 1-585-652-0611 (press 1).

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