Volume 6, Issue 2 (5-2013)                   IJMEHM 2013, 6(2): 1-16 | Back to browse issues page

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Tabatabaei S M. An analysis of the subject of brain death from the lexical, jurisprudential and medical viewpoint. IJMEHM 2013; 6 (2) :1-16
URL: http://ijme.tums.ac.ir/article-1-5097-en.html
Medical Ethics and History of Medicine Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. , smtabataba_md@yahoo.com
Abstract:   (12795 Views)
More than half a century has passed since the onset of successful life-saving and at times astonishing transplantations of organs from brain dead donors, numerous books and articles have been written on the subject, and local, regional and international meetings and conferences have been held. Nevertheless, no consensus has yet been reached among scholars of various fields such as medical sciences, religion, ethics and law on a number of generalities as well as theoretic and practical details of this issue. There have been discussions on topics such as the organ donor’s legal will, gaining consent while the donor is still alive, seeking consent from the brain dead patient’s family, nature of the required organ, observance of religious, cultural and conventional standards, individuals’ dignity and so on. The main challenge to overshadow other factors has so far been the discord among experts, physicians and religious scholars specifically, over determining the time the spirit leaves the body, and a unified definition of death. Some researchers have attempted to minimize religious, ethical and legal challenges and thus facilitate organ donation following brain death by emphasizing the urgency of organ donation and the practices related to certain specialties, and even maintain that brain death is the equivalent of death and a lifeless body. Others have focused on the time of death and the spirit leaving the body based on lexical, religious and medical evidence, regardless of equality of brain death and death, and ensuing rulings. These researchers have thus separated the solution to the problem of those in need of transplants from considering brain death to occur at the same time when the spirit leaves the body, and encourage experts to seek different solutions. Organ donation by brain dead patients is an undeniable social necessity that can be resolved without bringing about fundamental changes in lexical and jurisprudential concepts, and through other alternatives such as propounding “urgency”, declaring a patient “as good as dead” and in general “non-elucidated jurisprudential issues”. Through references to lexical, jurisprudential and medical sources and examination of previous research, the present article will review several definitions of death, spirit, and the time the spirit leaves the body, as these are concepts that are related to brain death for all practical purposes. The article also considers organ donation following brain death to be an undeniable and unavoidable fact of life in human societies, and will examine the necessity of altering lexical and jurisprudential concepts to accommodate current interests and goals.
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Type of Study: Research | Subject: Medical Ethics
Received: 2013/07/6 | Accepted: 2013/09/8 | Published: 2013/09/8

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