First, the doctors talk to neurologist Dr. Tom Zabiega about how his own view of brain death changed as he started to examine the issue and some of the practical flaws in the brain death tests.

Then the doctors talk to philosopher Dr. Pete Colosi talks about lingering ethical issues around the definition and diagnosis of brain death. He explains the difference between death and brain death, how even brain death itself is difficult to diagnose, and how the teachings of the Catholic Church can help families and health care providers honor the dignity of patients with significant brain injuries or who are nearing death.


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  • Mary Bledsoe says:

    I just listened to the podcasts on brain death. I worked as an ICU nurse for years and saw the testing that was done to declare a person brain dead, and I helped take care of patients who eventually became organ donors. The idea of them not being dead is haunting me. I have a couple questions. If it’s true that the person is still alive, is it permissible to remove life support? Also, I’ve taken care of patients who had very minimal brain function who have been on ventilators for extended periods of time. They don’t seem to have much dignity since their bodies are often flaccid, they are incontinent, and virtually unresponsive. It feels almost immoral to be part of something that is keeping patients like this artificially alive. Is it terrible for me to think this way? Thank you for any advice you could give.

    • Doctor Doctor says:

      Hi Mary. Thanks for listening. Since you listened to both, you already know the issue is not settled because it’s so difficult to define. Our friends at National Catholic Bioethcs Center do great work helping Catholic healthcare workers answer questions just like yours. They offer free ethics consultations, which you can find out about here:

      What a beautiful gift you have given so many patients and their families working with them in their time of greatest sickness in the ICU! You are in our prayers!

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