Brain death

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7364.598/a (Published 14 September 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:598

Brain death is a recent invention

  1. David W Evans, retired physician (DWEvansMD@tinyworld.co.uk)
  1. Cambridge CB3 9LN
  2. Philosophy and Religion Department, Methodist College, 5400 Ramsey Street, Fayetteville, NC 28311-1420, USA

    EDITOR—Your explicit recognition that “brain death” is a recent invention for transplant purposes is most welcome and should do much to expose the fallacies and fudgings associated with this supposed new form of death, which have been hidden from public and professional view for far too long.1 As one of those described as campaigning tirelessly against the concept and the bad science underpinning its diagnosis, I am grateful for your journal's support. I query your statement, however, that most doctors in Britain are comfortable with the concept of brain death. Is that statement evidence based? Or is it more likely that most doctors have no need to think deeply about this matter—and choose not to do so?

    The review to which you refer notes the cultural emphasis of Margaret Lock's study.2 More detailed consideration of the philosophical and scientific aspects will be found …

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