Extra Series

Why the Concept of Death is Valid as a Definition of Brain Death


Statement by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Responses to Objections
Extra Series 31
Vatican City, 2008
pp. 54
(English, German, Italian, Spanish, French)


The Consensus on Brain Death – The criterion of brain death as the death of an individual was established about forty years ago and since that time consensus on this criterion has increasingly grown. The most important academies of neurology in the world have adopted this criterion, as have most of the developed nations (the USA, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, India, Japan, Argentina and others) that have addressed this question. Unfortunately, there is insufficient explanation by the scientific world of this concept to public opinion which should be corrected. We need to achieve a convergence of views and to establish an agreed shared terminology. In addition, international organisations should seek to employ the same terms and definitions, which would help in the formulation of legislation. Naturally, public opinion must be convinced that the application of the criterion of brain death is carried out with the maximum rigour and efficacy. Governments should ensure that suitable resources, professional expertise and legislative frameworks are provided to ensure this end.

A. Battro, J.L. Bernat, M.-G. Bousser, N. Cabibbo, Card. G. Cottier, R.B. Daroff, S. Davis, L. Deecke, C.J. Estol, W. Hacke, M.G. Hennerici, J.C. Huber, Card. A. López Trujillo, Card. C.M. Martini, J. Masdeu, H. Mattle, J.B. Posner, L. Puybasset, M. Raichle, A.H. Ropper, P.M. Rossini, M. Sánchez Sorondo, H. Schambeck, E. Sgreccia, P.N. Tandon, R. Vicuña, E. Wijdicks, A. Zichichi


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