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May 1992

Brain Death or Loss of Human Brain Life?

Arch Neurol. 1992;49(5):572. doi:10.1001/archneur.1992.00530290164029

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Death, like birth, is a mystery of nature, it presupposes the arrangement and disarrangement of certain elements" according to Marcus Aurelius. Bernat thinks that for the brain the elements are "a critical number of neurons (that) permanently cease functioning, namely, those that subserve the activities of the hemispheres, diencephalon, and brain stem. It is these networks that execute the functions of the organism as a whole."

Youngner does not articulate an alternate definition but points out that many who believe that brain-dead patients are dead do so "because such patients have irreversibly lost the higher brain functions of consciousness and cognition." He also alludes to the findings of a study that he and his colleagues carried out in 195 physicians and nurses likely to be involved in organ procurement for transplantation in which 38% of respondents considered patients in a persistent vegetative state as brain dead. In such cases, the

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