Jeff McMahan - Śmierć, śmierć mózgowa, trwały stan wegetatywny (Death, Brain Death, and Persistent Vegetative State)

"For most of human history, there was no perceived problem in determining whether
a person was alive or dead. If the person had stopped breathing and had no heartbeat, he
was considered dead. During the twentieth century, however, techniques were developed
that made it possible to resuscitate some people who had stopped breathing and whose
heart had stopped beating. With the invention of mechanical ventilation, oxygen could
be forced in and out of the lungs of people unable to breathe on their own, and in many
cases this has been sufficient to stimulate the person’s heart to beat and thus to maintain
the functioning of the body as a whole for an indefinite period, even in the absence of any
indications of consciousness. At the same time that increasing numbers of mechanically
ventilated but unconscious patients began to divert medical resources away from people
who could have benefited from them more, there was also a growing demand for organs
for newly-developed transplant surgeries. These conditions prompted a debate in medical
circles about how to determine when a patient had died and could thus be removed from
expensive life-support systems, thereby making both the support systems and the
patient’s organs available to others. This debate resulted in a surprisingly abrupt
transition from universal acceptance of the traditional cardio-pulmonary criterion of death
to near-universal acceptance of brain death."...
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