When Is Brain Dead Dead?

What makes a brain dead person dead? In old times, it was much simpler, where a dead person would be very evidently dead, and an alive one, alive. Whether brain dead or not, a person would eventually just stop living – the heart stop beating, breathing would come to a halt. However, with advances in technology, a person can no longer be easily proclaimed dead, because whilst a person is technically brain dead, his heart might still be beating, and all other bodily functions still performing.

Life sustainment has gone big leaps in today’s society, being able to keep a person alive, when they should be technically dead. In the ICU, each organ system in the body is treated separately to ensure that they are still all working properly, with optimal function, even after the brain has died.

The problem here, of course, is that the ability to now have a gray area between life and death that can be sustained for indefinite periods of time. This means that even those who are beyond saving can still straddle the line between life and death, even when unnecessary.

However, when the brain dies – usually, from the lack of oxygenation experienced during cardiac arrest or a stroke – it most likely means that there’s no going back. The death of the brain means the death of a person. Despite the medical measures that can be taken to keep the person alive, the person is in fact, dead. Simple as it might seem, simple isn’t a word to describe this sort of situation, as there are many factors that go into the decision of pulling the plug.

For some, the grievance of losing a loved one might just be too high, that it is impossible to accept that a person is truly dead, when there’s still that 0.1% chance that they might recover. Those miracle stories of people who recover after a 10-year coma might come to mind. However, those are extremely rare cases. Yet, people believe that this stroke of luck might just land on their loved one’s hospital bed. Likewise, keeping a loved one alive, despite him being as functional as a vegetable, will also bring serious amounts of grief to those close to him.

However, there is still a fine line between dead and a vegetable, and this should be urged in medical centers across our 50 states. Why hang on, and experience pain every day, when you know that all hope is lost? I’ve obviously never lost a loved one to brain death, but maybe that’s why I’m so inclined to say to simply pull the plug.

However, painful as it might be, miracles don’t happen every day.

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