You Have the Right to an Ethical Definition of Death

Updated: May 10

“People have a right not to have a concept of death

that experts vigorously debate imposed upon them

against their judgment and conscience”

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These words were written last year by Dr. D. Alan Shewmon, Professor Emeritus of pediatric neurology at the UCLA medical school. He and 107 experts on the issue of brain death signed a statement published in the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. They proposed that people have a right to fully informed consent about brain death, including a disclosure that experts vigorously debate whether brain death actually represents biological and spiritual death. They also recommended that conscience protection safeguards be put in place for those who do not accept brain death criteria.

Dr. Shewmon has been an outspoken critic of the concept of brain death for many years. He spoke at the Harvard Medical School 2018 Conference “Defining Death: Organ Transplantation and the Fifty-Year Legacy of the Harvard Report on Brain Death. The consensus of speakers concluded that “brain death” is a legal fiction, and that these people are biologically alive at the time of their organ harvest.

Another quote from the Harvard conference: “The history of death determination in the context of organ donation can be described as an indoctrinating attempt to settle a moral controversy”.

I often speak with people who haven’t thought much about the organ transplant issue. When they hear that “brain death” is a legal fiction, and that these donors are still biologically and spiritually alive at the time of their organ harvest, they often respond with shock and disbelief. Or anger.

What I tell people who react with anger is that I completely understand their feelings. I was once a young physician who believed her authorities. When they told me that the young man I was taking to the operating room for an organ harvest was “dead”, I believed them despite the evidence of my eyes. He was warm, pink, breathing (with a ventilator), and had a beating heart. I still believed them as I noticed that he responded to incisions and surgery, requiring anesthesia like any other operative patient. It took me time to realize that I had been deceived, and that I had taken a living human being, whose soul was still in his body, and held him down with anesthetic drugs while he was murdered by the removal of his organs.

The organ transplant industry makes billions of dollars annually by pushing slick propaganda on an unsuspecting populace. People are then devastated when they learn that the organ they received came from a vulnerable, living human being who was murdered by its removal. And imagine the grief and regret of those who believed this lie and turned a beloved family member over to be harvested while he was actually still alive.

At a recent “Faith and Medicine” conference in Atlanta, Georgia, I met a lady at our book table. It turned out that she had already bought a copy of our book the day before. “I gave it to a friend of mine who has had a heart transplant,” she said, “and she’s going to have a kidney transplant soon!” This poor lady who loves her friend was immensely surprised to learn that a viable heart can only come through the murder of the donor. Naturally, we were both concerned about how her friend would react to this news. I prayed with her for her friend and offered the love and compassion of Christ which I have experienced, and which is there for all who come to Him in repentance and faith. We also discussed how a kidney transplant can be morally and ethically acceptable through living donation, in which BOTH the donor and recipient remain alive after the procedure.

The main reason Chris Bogosh and I wrote our book Harvesting Organs and Cherishing Life is that we believe people deserve the truth about organ donation and harvesting. People deserve to know that “brain death” is a lie.

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