Friday, May 28, 2010

Premature dispatch

BEN EDWARDS/STONE/GETTY IMAGES

Prolonging life for transplant recipients should not hasten death for donors

WORLD Magazine | Matt Anderson

The transplant industry is extremely interested in the definition of death. Transplants now include kidneys, hearts, livers, pancreas, corneas, lungs, and other body parts. Even a face has been transplanted. These transplants allow recipients to continue their lives, lives which may have been marred without a transplant. But the number of needed organs exceeds the number of available organs for transplantation. On this shortage stands the definition of death. Liberalize the definition of death, and increase the number of available organs.

Medically, death occurs when the heart stops and breathing stops. These two parameters defined it for millennia. But with medical technology, applying that definition has become fuzzy and troubling. Death now includes brain death and cardiac death, with cardiac death the most controversial. Read more.

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