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Brain death controversies from the US

Two cases highlight differences in approaches of clinicians and families to the treatment of patients who have suffered brain stem death.

A) In Texas a pregnant woman who is brain dead has been kept on a ventilator because turning it off would harm her unborn child, despite her family and husband wanting the ventilator turned off.

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B) In Oakland a child declared brain dead has been kept on a ventilator at her family’s insistence following a court order. The family’s view is that she remains alive until her heart stops beating.

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An American organ procurement organisation has won a court case to retrieve organs from a brain dead young adult who was on the national organ donor register against his family’s wishes.

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