Vatican newspaper reopens debate on defining death

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 10 September 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1602
  1. Michael Day
  1. 1Milan

    A front page editorial in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has reopened the debate on what constitutes the end of life, 40 years after the widely accepted Harvard report that established the concept of brain death.

    The editorial, in the 2 September edition, declares that life might continue after the brain dies. It says that the current, almost universally accepted definition published by Harvard doctors in 1968 “is in contradiction to the concept of the person according to Catholic doctrine.” Before the influential US report was published, death was defined by the absence of a heart beat …

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