Bioethics Blogs

Virginia Amending its Brain Death Statute

The Virginia Legislature just passed a bill amending the Code of Virginia, relating to declaration of neurological death.  On Thursday night, the Legislature sent H.B. 652 to the Governor.

The bill, authored by neurologist and delegate John O’Bannon, changes how brain death is determined.

First, current Virginia law requires diagnosis by both 

  1. The opinion of a physician, who shall be duly licensed
  2. A specialist in the field of neurology, neurosurgery electroencephalography, or critical care medicine

The Amendment requires the second physician to be board eligible or board certified in neurology, neurosurgery, or critical care medicine.

Second, current Virginia law requires the “absence of brain stem reflexes, spontaneous brain functions and spontaneous respiratory functions.”

The Amendment requires the more common language: “irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem.”

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.