Bioethics Blogs

Calls to Change the Definition of Death

In the United States death is determined upon EITHER the irreversible cessation of cardiopulmonary function or the irreversible cessation of all brain function.  

But how exactly is “irreversible cessation” measured  There are growing calls to amend the prevailing standards and criteria for determining brain death and circulatory death.

On determining irreversible cessation of brain function, the Aden Hailu case now being briefed to the Nevada Supreme Court contends that the most commonly (though not universally) used criteria should be changed.

On determining irreversible cessation of cardiopulmonary function, two Australian researchers just argued that we should omit the requirement for irreversibility in the definition of circulatory death and redefine it as “cessation of circulatory function with cessation of higher brain function.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.