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Catholic group sees ‘decisive breakdown in consensus’ on brain death

April 11, 2024

» Continue to this story on NCBC

CWN Editor's Note: “The failure of recent efforts to resolve an important dispute regarding the determination of brain death instead revealed a decisive breakdown in the public consensus on death and organ donation,” according to a statement released by the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC). The statement adds that this breakdown has “profound implications for the entire field of organ transplant.”

Although the concept of “brain death” is not universally accepted, the NCBC notes that most medical authorities support the use of vital organs harvested from “brain dead” patients. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI endorsed organ transplants, while cautioning that organs cannot be harvested from a living person.

The Uniform Determination of Death Act of 1981 defined brain death as the “irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain.” However, recent studies have shown that some brain function is detectible in roughly half of the patients who are classified as “brain dead” and whose vital organs are removed.

“A partial brain-death standard can never be acceptable to Catholics,” the NCBC statement warns.

The above note supplements, highlights, or corrects details in the original source (link above). About CWN news coverage.


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  • Posted by: grateful1 - Apr. 14, 2024 2:14 PM ET USA

    Thanks so much for this critically important coverage.

  • Posted by: grateful1 - Apr. 14, 2024 2:02 PM ET USA

    Thanks so much for this critically important coverage.