July 03, 2015

Why are organ donors who are officially pronounced dead adminstered anesthesia after the certification?

                                                           PART 2
                                    © Randy Engel, with permission

      Continued from:  http://www.pagesofmary.com/2012/01/finis-vitae-1.html

                                          Introduction — Biology 101

Biologically speaking, the human body is composed of cells, tissues, organs, and elev-
en systems, including three major vital systems.  No one organ or system controls all
other organs and systems.  Interdependent functioning of organs and systems maintain
a state of unity, homeostasis, immune defenses, growth, healing and exchange with en-
vironment, e.g., oxygen and carbon dioxide.

The wondrous complexity and interaction between the body's vital organs and major
systems, in particular, the heart and the autonomic nervous system, is highlighted in a
John Andrew Amour essay that appears in Finis Vitae.  It is titled "The Heart of the 
Matter," and in it the author speaks of little brains:

The identification of little brains in the heart, gut, and other organs that are dedicated
to self-regulatoin of the organs that they subserve, suggests that the autonomic nervous
system is made up of local networks involved in maintaining the milieu intereurin in a
manner not totally subservient to central neuronal. [2]  That the internal nervous system
is capable of processing information from multiple internal organs, along with centripe-
tal (to the brain) and centrifugal (from the brain) information, in the maintenance of the
milieu intereur, represents a novel perspective with which to understand the totality of
the human body. [3]

For purposes of this article, it may do well to point out that the human embryo doesn't
develop a brain until he is 6 weeks old, yet he is a living human being, a human person,
from the moment of conception.  Therefore, human life is present independently from,
and prior to, brain function.

Anencephalic infants, those who lack the upper part of the brain yet have a brain stem,
are also human persons.  Individuals in a coma, including those who have been labeled
"brain-dead," are also living human persons, even if they require a ventilator.  In fact, a
ventilator is of use to a live human, because, while the machine can inflate the lungs and
provide oxygenated air at the systemic level, respiration, the exchange of oxygen, and
carbon dioxide production is the task of the patient. [4]

The Brain is Not a Super-Organ

In his masterful introduction to Finis Vitae, editor Dr. Paul A. Byrne tackles one of
the most important medical myths that drive the "brain-death" (aka, irreversible coma)
engine relentlessly forward, namely, that a man's brain is a "super-controller"  —  the
be-all and end-all of his existence.  Here are some basic facts about the brain present-
ed by Byrne which clearly demonstrate why the medical criterion of "brain-death" is

1} The brain is not a single unit.  It is composed of several closely interrelated parts
       (cortex, cerebellum, midbrain, hypothalamus, medulla, etc.)
2} Though composed of superficially similar tissues, and closely linked together both
       anatomically and physiologically, these parts can continue to live and act indepen-
       dently of one another, even when one or more of them has been destroyed. [5]
3} The brain as a whole has no physiologically identifiable, single function which can
      be properly identified as the "life-giving function" or the function of the brain as
      "organ of the whole." [6]
4} The brain has a large multiplicity of different functions that are characteristic of its
       different parts, each of which can function without the others. [7]
5} None of these parts is in complete control of the others. [8]

The loss of brain function or activity, whether reversible or irreversible, is not the same
as the total or even partial destruction of the brain.  Neither does it automatically follow
that the person suffering the loss of function is dead. [9]   The destruction of the brain
and the cessation of its functioning, along with certain activities, are, in principle, direct-
ly observable, and such observations can serve as evidence.  However, the prognosis
of "irreversibility" of cessation of brain function is a criterion that is not an observable
condition, and therefore, it can neither serve as evidence nor be rightly made part of
an empirical criterion of death. [10]  As Byrne notes, "... to regard the irreversibil-
ity of cessation of brain function as synonymous or interchangeable with de-
struction of the entire brain is to commit a compound fallacy:  Identifying the 
symptoms with their cause and assuming that a single cause when several are
possible." [11]

In his essay on the legal aspects of "brain death,"  Determining Death:  Is Brain
Death Reliable?," German-born jurist Rainer Beckmann reiterates Byrne's analysis
that, while the brain is "vital" and essential for breathing, "there is no absolutely ex-
ceptional role of the brain concerning 'self-activity' and controlling.'" [12]

According to Beckmann:  ... the advocates of the concept of brain death do not see
that the brain keeps the human being alive only in interaction with all the other vital or-
gans:  heart, lungs, kidneys, etc.  From a systemic-biological point of view, the brain
not only keeps heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. alive, but these organs keep the brain alive,
too.  The brain can therefore not be seen as the absolutely decisive instance for the
maintenance of life in a human being. [13]

In his concluding statement, Beckman, Vice-Chairman of the Jurists Society for the
Right to Life, reiterates the same position that Doctor Byrne and every contributor to
Finis Vitae has long since defended:  that the "features of death, i.e., the end of 
the physical-spiritual unity and the biological unity of the organism as a 
whole, are not reliably indicated by the brain death criterion." [14]

The Utilitarian Philosophy Behind "Brain Death"

Professor Roberto de Mattei, vice-president of the National Research Council of Italy
and editor of the Italian version of Finis Vitae, in "Genuine Science or False Philo-
sophy?" opens the door to an examination of the anti-Christian and utilitarian philoso-
phy that undergirds "brain death" as a definitive criterion for true death.  It is the door
which has been consistently closed and bolted shut by proponents of "brain death," in-
cluding many prominent Catholic clergy, professionals, and laymen.

De Mattei reminds the reader that the Ad Hoc Harvard Committee Report was dom-
inated by a utilitarian and materialistic philosophical bias passed off as scientific fact.
His quote from a letter dated October 30, 1967, by Henry K. Beecher, Chair of the
Committee, to Robert Ebert, Dean of the Harvard Medical School, in which Beech-
er writes, "The time has come for a further consideration of the definition of 
death.  Every major hospital has patients stacked up waiting for suitable don-
ors," confirms that bias. [15]

"The notion of brain death," explains de Mattei, reflects an "inherent materialism
which in fact identifies the vital core of the human being in brain activity it-
self" as taught by both Engels and Lenin. [16]  This belief, he asserts, is in diametri-
cal opposition to the philosophical foundation of Western civilization which 
holds that a human being is made up of soul and body, and indeed in its spir-
itual soul resides his vital core." [17]

Man is More Than His Brain

Many of the contributors to Finis Vitae, including de Mattei, identify with Aristotelian-
Thomistic thought, and uphold the traditional Catholic belief that the rationale soul is the
one and only "substantial form" of the body. [18]   As de Mattei explains, "Obviously 
'rational soul' does not by any means indicate the intellectual functions of an 
individual, but rather, the presence within the individual of a life principle of 
a spiritual nature which encompasses within itself, the potentiality of the oper-
ation of those functions." [19]

De Mattei further states, "The generatio, i.e., the biological shaping of the body, 
does not follow, but rather precedes the infusion of the soul, just the way that 
biological death does not follow, but precedes that of the soul. [20]  This means,
that at true death, it is the body that separates from the soul and that the cessation of
all brain activities is the beginning, not the end, of the body's progressive dissolution
process. [21]

Complementing de Mattei's presentation is an article by Professor Michael Potts of
Methodist University, in Fayetteville, N.C., titled "The Beginning and the End of 
Life - Toward Philosophical Consistency."  As Potts points out,  "Issues at the
edges of life are inevitably interdisciplinary, that is, they involve not only sci-
entific matters, but also philosophical and theological ones." [22]  Potts' sec-
tion on the metaphysics of human personhood will be of special interest and value to
pro-lifers currently engaged in state-wide "Personhood" legislation.

"Brain Death" as a Grave Metaphysical Error

One of the most intriguing and searing attacks on the criterion of "brain death" is Dr.
Josef Seifert's summary paper titled, On 'Brain Death' in Brief:  Philosophical 
Arguments Against Equating It With Actual Death, and Responses to 'Argu-
ments' in Favor of Such an Equation."  Professor Seifert is Rector of the Interna-
tional Academy for Philosophy in the principality of Liechtenstein and a member of the
Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life.

Seifert traces one of the main root errors of so-called "brain death" to a false biologi-
cal concept that views human life in terms of "an integrated whole of organs and cells,"
rather than "human life ... in its concrete incarnate form, derived solely from the 
presence of the intellective human soul in the body." [23]

Seifert goes further by reminding the reader that:

It is not the life of the soul in the body, but the life of the soul itself, which is also the
deepest grounding source of personal life on earth.  The human life on earth is precise-
ly the life of the soul as long as it is united with the body and vivifies the body of the hu-
man person, bestowing its own life on the body and making the body participate in it.
This life can precisely also exist outside of, and apart from, the body, as the philosoph-
ical arguments for the immortality of the human soul show.  In the light of these reflec-
tions on the different data and nature of what we call human life, we see more clearly
why any reduction of human life to integrated function is wrong and why the loss of a
part of bodily integration and co-ordination through brain stem death is no good rea-
son to claim the death of the individual person (emphasis added). [24]

Among the conclusions set forth by Seifert is that a metaphysical notion of death has
to guide our action, in that any reasonable doubt as to its occurrence must forbid op-
erations which might bring it about. [25]   This essay alone is worth the price of the

Bishop Bruskewitz on Extreme Unction and Homicide

Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln Nebraska is the only hierarch-
ical contributor to Finis Vitae.  His contributing essay, "A Brief Summary of Catho-
lic Doctrine Regarding Human Life," contains information on "brain death" which
is unique to the Catholic perspective, especially his latter section on the Sacrament of
Extreme Unction.  Incidentally, Extreme Unction is the anointing and absolution of liv-
ing humans who are seriously ill or dying.  Its relevance for Catholic priests and chap-
lains is obvious, being that all sacraments are for the living not the dead. [26]

Addressing the morality of acting on the criterion of "brain death" to secure unpaired
healthy vital organs for a waiting transplant recipient from a "brain dead" patient, Bish-
op Bruskewitz, never a prelate to mince words, recalls the Catholic Church's position
on deliberate homicide as "a grievous mortal and spiritually lethal sin," and then lowers
the boom with this singular observation In the common estimation of humanity, to cut
the beating heart out of a breathing person who is ingesting food, excreting waste, and
responding to external stimuli, such as jabs and pokes by needles and knives, is con-
sidered to be an act of homicide. [27]

Pro-"Brain Death" Advocates Who Changed their Mind

Among the great strengths of Finis Vitae are the candid essays written by profession-
als who either formally favored "brain death" criterion, or who were at least neutral on
the subject.  These articles are bound to make a deep impression upon the mind of the
reader for they invariably touch upon the nagging, ever-present question which is at the
heart of the "brain death" controversy, namely, "Do surgeons and other profession-
als in the transplantation field REALLY believe that "brain-dead" patients 
are truly dead?"

The answer, of course, is "No."  "None of them are so na├»ve as to believe that 
people with dead brains (sic) are dead in the traditional biological sense of
the irreversible loss of bodily integration," or else why would they seek out and
support a new definition or definitions of death. [28]

Indeed, by the late 1990s, some pro-transplant advocates like Dr. Robert D. Truog,
Professor of Medical Ethics, Anesthesiology, and Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical
School, were advocating the abandonment of the "brain death" criterion altogether, in
the belief that "killing may sometimes be a justifiable necessity for procuring 
transplantable organs." [29] Truog also admitted that, "... the concept was nev-
er more than a social construction, developed to meet the needs of the trans-
plantation enterprise during a crucial phase of its development." [30]

The "Damascus Moment" for Dr. Weaver

In the introduction to the essay "Unpaired Vital Organ Transplantation," from
which I quoted extensively in Part I of this series, former transplant cardiologist Dr.
Walt Franklin Weaver explained that until 1988, he willingly and enthusiastically par-
ticipated in his hospital's heart transplantation program.  He said that the only contact
he and his colleagues had with donors "was when their hearts arrived in a cooler 
from distant cities." [31]

One day, Weaver said, "I was asked to consult on a 19-year-old brain injured 
potential 'donor' tentatively scheduled for a heart transplant to a patient in 
another city."  Weaver recalls the simple act of sitting at the donor/patient's bedside:

... promptly brought before me was what I had known since the first success-
   ful heart transplant by Dr. Barnard in 1967.   I had blinded myself to the
   fact that donors are most definitely 'truly' alive. ... This 19-year-old 'donor'
   had all the signs of a living human being and none of the signs of the truly
   dead human being. ... He was receiving usual life-support technology and 
   care, and his vital signs were quite stable.  However, with a change in ap-
   pearance or vital signs, the simple entry of a note indicating 'brain death' 
   in his hospital record by a neurologist instantly marked him as a vulner-
   able and legally dehumanized human being who could be killed by remov-
   al of his vital organs, experimented upon, or used for surgical teaching.[32]

Weaver says that he has experienced "a sense of remorse" when having reflected
on "the plight of the unknown and faceless donors who lost their lives with-
out the benefit of a longer trial of current, up-to-date life-support technology 
prior to their intended death from removal of their vital organs." [33]

The Testimony of Pediatrician Joseph Evers

The moment of truth for pediatrician Dr. Joseph C. Evers, concerning the deadly reality
of "brain death" criterion, came about when he was asked to chair a Pediatric Intensive
Care Subcommittee at his local hospital  ...  to revise the existing protocol for diagnos-
ing brain death in children for the purpose of vital organ removal and subsequent trans-
plantation.  This was the first time he was forced to "come to grips" with the scientific,
legal and moral issues surrounding "brain death," he said. [34]

Evers began his long journey with a literature search and a dialogue with valued col-
leagues.  Amongst the articles that immediately caught his interest was a report of a
24 year-old pregnant woman who was declared "brain dead" on the 19th day of her
hospitalization, but who, with the assistance of a ventilator lived 5 additional days, just
in time to deliver a healthy 29-week-old baby.  Evers questioned how it was possible
for a "corpse" to nurture her unborn baby and give birth to a living child. [35]   He also
questioned the necessity of having so many different sets of "brain death" criteria; more
than 30 by 1978 — and growing by leaps and bounds. [36]

Evers ultimately resigned from the protocol committee, but not before he told the en-
tire medical staff the reason for his actions and urged them to vote against the proto-
col.  Some did, but not enough.  The "brain death" protocol became hospital policy.
The pediatrician recalls that after the fateful meeting, a neurologist colleague of his ap-
proached him and said, "You know Joe, you're right.  We just wink at it." [37]

Alan Shewmon — A Conversion in Three Stages

In 1992, D. Alan Shewmon, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at
UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, began his intellectual quest to investigate the
"emergence of impressive counterevidence to the supposed medical 'fact' of 
'brain death,' aka "higher brain death," "whole brain death," physiological
decapitation."  Up until this time he had been a radical defender of "brain death," as
death. [38]  Shewmon said that it took him until 1997 to venture forth publicly with his
new views in opposition to "brain death," and another nine years to develop additional
insights and perspectives in support of those views. [39]

Among Shewmon's striking observations and statements cited in his fascinating essay
"Brain-Body Disconnection: Implications for the Theoretical Basis on Brain
Death" are:  "I daresay that doctors in general and neurologists in particular
have come to an overwhelming consensus that brain death is death, not be-
cause they have examined the evidence and concluded it for themselves, but
purely and simply from a professional herd mentality." [40]

Shewmon's quote of a bone-chilling statement made by the late Dr. Ronald Cranford,
longtime Chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Academy of Neurology, re-
garding the status of "permanently unconscious patients' who have "characteristics of
both the living and the dead."  "It would be tempting to call them dead and then 
retrospectively apply the principles of death, as society has done with brain 
death" opined Cranford (emphasis by Shewmon). [41]

    "To admit that many brain-dead patients are deeply comatose, severely 
    disabled, living human beings is progress, not regress.   It will force a 
    refinement in our understanding and diagnosis of death, a clarification 
    in our fundamental philosophical principles regarding human life, and 
    a realignment between our understanding and our consciences in deal-
    ing with these most vulnerable human lives." [42]

Finis Vitae Belongs in Your Lending Library

Finis Vitae belongs in your library.  But, never let it just sit on your book shelf.  After
you have read it carefully, keep the book in circulation.  Loan your copy to family and
friends, especially to card-carrying teenage "donors" and their parents, as well as your
physician, lawyer, and priest, minister, or rabbi.  Consider donating a copy to your lo-
cal library or to the chaplaincy reading room at your local hospital.   E-mail or call your
state and federal legislators, to find out where they stand on unpaired vital organ trans-
plantation and "brain death" criterion.  If they blurt out, "I don't know," educate them.
Every pro-life group should have a representative of the Life Guardian Foundation ad-
dress their members.  People Concerned for the Unborn Child in Pittsburgh, PA, re-
cently invited Dr. Paul Byrne, as guest speaker for their annual pro-life banquet.  It
was my honor to meet Dr. Byrne for the first time.

The Transplantation Industry Is On the Move

Make no mistake about it.  The Transplantation Industry is on the move.  It doesn't
have a heart, but it would sure like to have yours, if it's beating and healthy.  And it
will say and do anything to get it.

This means that you need to take action.  At the very minimum, each adult and older
teens needs to carry an "opt-out" medical donor card in a wallet or purse next to his
driver's license, and each should make his/her wishes known to the next of kin. [43]
Also, I believe that there is a great need for the creation of an organization dedicated
to tending to the needs and concerns of parents and relatives who, in almost all cases
without informed consent, signed over their "brain dead" loved one for vital organ har-
vesting and have come to understand and regret the implications of their actions.  Re-
cent studies of heart transplant recipients who come to understand that a patient/donor
was killed so that he might live, are also in need of intensive psychological and spiritual
counseling and therapy.

I don't know how many people will read this column, but I hope and pray that the in-
formation provided here will be instrumental in saving at least one life, and one family
from belatedly having to face the terrible truth behind the Industry's deceptive and
deadly mantra, "give the 'Gift of Life.'"

The End

Written by Randy Engel:
Edited by Patrick Pontillo

[1] Finis Vitae — Is "Brain Death" True Death? is published by the Life
     Guardian Foundation. For ordering information go to http://lifeguardianfoundation.org/.

[2] John Andrew Armour, "The Heart of the Matter," Finis Vitae, p. 40.  The
      term milieu intereur refers to the bodily fluids regarded as an internal environment
      in which the cells of the body are nourished and maintained in a state of equilibrium.
[3] Ibid., p.40.

[4] My thanks to Dr. Paul Byrne for this simple reminder. See also Michael Potts,
    "The Beginning and the End of Life-Toward Philosophical Consistency,"
     Finis Vitae, p. 196.

[5] Dr. Paul A. Byrne, "Introduction," Finis Vitae, p. xxi.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid., p. xxii.
[8] Ibid.,
[9] Ibid., p. xxiii.
[10] Ibid., p. xxiv
[11] Ibid., p. xxv.

[12] Rainer Beckmann, "Determining Death: Is Brain Death Reliable,"
        Finis Vitae, p. 61.
[13] Ibid., p. 61.
[14] Ibid., 63.

[15] Roberto de Mattei, "Genuine Science or False Philosophy?"  
        Finis Vitae, p. 101
[16] Ibid., p.103.
[17] Ibid., p.105.
[18] Ibid., p. 106.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid., p. 113.
[21] Ibid.

[22] Potts, p. 177.

[23] Dr. Josef Seifert, "On 'Brain Death' in Brief: Philosophical Arguments
       Against Equating It With Actual Death, and Responses to 'Arguments'
       in Favor of Such an Equation," Finis Vitae, p. 212.
[24] Ibid., p. 213.
[25] Ibid., p. 223

[26] Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, "A Brief Summary of Catholic Doctrine Re-
        garding Human Life," Finis Vitae, pp. 78-80.

[27] Ibid., p. 71.

[28] This statement is a paraphrasing of a claim made by Robert M. Veatch, Ph.D.,
        a Harvard graduate and the former Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics
        at Georgetown University in 2004, and subsequently quoted by Finis Vitae
        contributor David W. Evans in his essay What is 'Brain Death'?  A British
        Physician's View."  The pro- "brain death" Veatch acknowledges that the
        members of the 1968 Ad Hoc Harvard Committee were well aware of what
        they were doing when they proposed "an entirely new definition of death , one
        that assigned the label 'death' for social and policy purposes to people who no
        longer are seen as having the full moral standing assigned to other humans." See
        p. 119 and fn. 8.  Evans concludes that, "In the present state of knowledge, 
        there is no sound scientific or philosophical basis for the diagnosis of 
        human death on the so-called 'brain death' or 'brain stem death' clini-
        cal criteria in current use worldwide."

[29] R.D. Truog, "Is it Time to Abandon Brain death,?" Hastings Center Report,
       1997, pp. 29-37. as quoted in Wolfgang Waldstein, "A Law of Life-Legality 
        vs. Morality," Finis Vitae, p. 281.

[30] Weaver, p. 22.
[31] Ibid., p. 1.
[32] Ibid., p. 3.
[33] Ibid., p.12.

[34] Joseph C. Evers, "Personal Testimony on the Understanding of Brain 
        Death," Finis Vitae, p. 123.
[35] Ibid., p. 124.
[36] Ibid.
[37] Ibid., p. 126.

[38] D. Alan Shewmon, "Brain-Body Disconnection: Implications for the 
        Theoretical Basis of Brain Death," Finis Vitae, p. 230.
[39] Ibid., p. 245.
[40] Ibid., p.228.
[41] Ibid., o, 231.
[42] Ibid., p. 251.

[43] Medical cards with "opt-out" directions are available online
        at http://lifeguardianfoundation.org/ and by mail from the U.S.
        Coalition for Life, Box 315, Export, PA 15632. Suggested
        donation is $2.00 per card.