"Brain death"
A lie destined to die


- Perhaps dying but certainly not dead:

Brainstem failure patients (wrongly referred to as brainstem dead) retain all signs of life which include:

(1)    Neuromuscular activity, muscle twitches, complex movements of the limbs and trunk, as if struggling to breath during apnoea testing (Lazarus sign )  ( 51).

(2)    Alteration of pulse and blood pressure which commonly occur in response to the apnea challenge and in response to surgical stimuli during organ harvesting(52,53)This strongly suggests viability of brainstem vasomotor area.

(3)  Serum levels of hypothalamic and pituitary hormones were found to be inconsistently high in brainstem donors suggesting  that some parts of the hypothalamus and hypophysis may still be viable after "brainstem death"(54,55).

(4)  A brain dead subject can sustain his body temp. within near normal   range, clearly denoting metabolic activity. The body temp. can rise and leucocytosis may occur in response to infection(56).

(5)  A case reported in 1988 of a 27-year old primigravida who was in her 24th week of gestation suffering from brainstem death. In order to    deliver a viable baby, the mother was kept alive (on a life support) for a    whole nine weeks. When the baby was delivered alive by caesarian    section, the mother was sacrificed( 13).

    How could a cadaver endorse a living fetus for nine weeks? How could a cadaver sustain her blood gas levels near the normal range even if on a respirator. It is well known that a cardiac pace-maker can never initiate a cardiac contraction when a patient dies. How was that patient sustained alive for nine whole weeks if' she were already a cadaver?


    From all the above data it could be realised that assuming patients with brainstem insult to be dead is a great mistake. Actually suchL_ patients are suffering from brainstem failure. Like any other vital-organ failure, if its  function is not promptly substituted for by machines until these patients are effectively treated, they will eventually die. Unfortunately, brainstem failure patients are never granted that right(13)