Halachic Organ donor Society, P.O. box 693, New York, NY 10108-0693, Phone: 212-213-5087, Email: admin@hods.org

Brain Death I: A Status Report of Medical and Ethical Considerations

Arguing that brain death is a superior indicator of death, this team of rabbis, doctors, and ethicists published their work more than 30 years ago. Visualizing lack of blood flow to the brain and lack of brain activity over a short period of time, allows doctors to determine unequivocally that a patient has died even if they are being supported by mechanical means. The second section provides philosophical arguments from several religious traditions for the recognition of brain death as a legitimate indicator of death. Of particular note are Rav Moshe Feinstein’s words, “there is no religious imperative to continue to use a respirator to inflate and deflate the lungs and thus maintain the cellular viability of other organs in an otherwise dead patient.” These arguments are presented first and foremost for their own sake though the authors acknowledge that they have important bearing on the decisions to allow organ donation.