Monday, January 10, 2011

So when will you have died?

Hi everyone,


a person dies as long as he's living and lives as long as he's dying, or something like that, an easily remembered rule to follow I've heard a while back and always thought to be universally true.

But when is that point reached where a human has officially died?

The thing is, seperating live from death in our big and complex world doesn't quite work this easy.
Getting pronounced dead in England, for example, doesn't yet mean you have to be dead in Germany. Allthough if you get pronounced dead in Germany you could still be alive in Japan.
The reason behind this is that there are different perceptions (and therefore definitions) of what's really dead. So in England you may already have officially died when only a specific part of your brain stopped working. In Germany that's not sufficient – usually every function of your brain has to have stopped over here for you to be officially dead. In Japan death hasn't officially kicked in until your heart stopped working aswell.

"Dead means dead" - another pretty simple formular which stopped working in the sixtys when intensive care opened up new possibilities which altered our perception of live and death forever. Suddenly people whose hearts stopped beating and lungs stopped breathing could be reanimated – two sure indications of death until this point. Of course only a few of those patients fully recovered. Many stayed in a coma and had to be artificially fed and respirated because the temporary lack of oxigen damaged their brains.
Doctors all over the world soon asked for definite criteria regarding what's life and what's death, or more importantly at what point they would be allowed to stop the costly life-sustaining measures.

And it was 1968 that the Harvard Medical School came up with some criteria; they basically defined brain dead – man dead. Many countrys started to adopt this definition, others did not and yet others, such as Germany, don't have a real definition till this present day. But even in countrys where brain death equals human death there are lots of discussions going on – critics say a person shouldn't be deemed dead when their body is still warm, their heart still beating and their digestion is still working without flaws. In their eyes, a braindead person is dying, but not dead yet (now and if that's still a life worth living is another story).
And even within the lines of the supporters there are different oppinions – are you officially braindead when your brainstem stopped working? Or does every single bit of brain activity have to have stopped? What exactly is even measurable with our current technology...?

Most of this info is blatantly stolen from the article "Wann ist der Mensch tot?" by Martina Keller. I grabbed it at a continued education seminar I went to recently and think it's a really interesting read.
Do you guys and girls care about this stuff? The article is pretty long and goes on about measures to prove brain death and the problems with donor organs being removed too late because death hasn't officially kicked in yet. I may be tempted to steal some more in order to fulfill my Kind of Informational duty! Be sure to drop me a comment :)

Greets,
Wesh

55 comments:

  1. Interesting to see how other cultures approach death. Good post!

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  2. "a person lives...as long as he's dying" never thought of it like that... interesting outlook.

    here's my blog though if anyone wants to see my outlook on life ;P http://lifeofbaron.blogspot.com

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  3. Wow, crazy Germans eh? I'd consider brain dead "dead dead" because life as a vegetable doesn't seem worth living to me.

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  4. Death is the only sure thing in life and the only inevitable fact

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  5. Actually this is a very interesting thought MRanthropone because some people think being a vegetable still means being alive. Actually there is a big discussion about that over here in Germany!

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  6. Great post. I find this topic very interesting. There are a lot of people walking around in various states :0D

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  7. What an interesting read, thanks for the post

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  8. thats some crazy, intense stuff...great read tho..gonna have to wrap my head around it

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  9. Very informative, thanks!

    Don't forget to check and support often your local information hot-spot lifeformation.blogspot.com!

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  10. Life and death don't seem too different to some people. Interesting blog; following

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  11. I recently watched (an admittedly pretty shitty) documentary on just this. Despite its uninformative-ness, it brought up an interesting point

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  12. at first i thought this was your writing and i was like wtf, buddies got deep opinions haha

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  13. Really interesting stuff. Never really thought about what being dead really meant.

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  14. hmm maby death is when your consciousness leaves and can't return?? also if u were a brain in a jar but still could communicate would you still be considered alive or dead?

    Source "the man with two Brains"

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  15. In my opinion, someone who is dead is a person who has lost total connection from their previous reality. IF: A best friend who once was able to everything and then later on becomes a vegetable. How is being fed through a tube "living"?

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  16. @ anomanomisanom
    you mean, Source "Futurama" :P

    A coma is a tricky situation.... there's always the chance of revival at any moment, but when is it time to call it quits? I don't even know what to do if a loved one was in that situation, and I hope I never have to make that decision.

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  17. That's insane.
    I'm staying away from German zombies.

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  18. Yeah and I will live when Im dead

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  19. man this is interesting. it is too hard to decide if a person is dead or not

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  20. Interesting topic. Some people aren't comfortable talking about death... not me though, haha. thanks for sharing :)

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  21. You should read "The Pig Who Wants To Be Eaten"
    There's a sequel out now about a duck, but they cover all kinds of these philosophical red button issues.

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  22. Somewhat morbid but very interested read ;D

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  23. When your pulse stops... you dead

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  24. You know, I did think about life and death a few days ago. If you do believe in life after death, just think about eternity. Just think about it. Forever. You'll be in one place forever, never ending, never stopping. Kinda scares some people.

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  25. All this technology is great for helping people live but some people are just too old to save. I'm not trying to sound mean but it's almost not worth the effort sometimes, you know?

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  26. interesting topic. leads easily into a discussion about euthanasia.

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  27. Quite a topic to think about. I like the idea that I can die but someone else could use an organ of mine and, in a way, I live on. But I'm not really, it's just a part of me. I am the sum of my parts.

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  28. i believe that the a person is not truely dead until he/she has lost all brain activity

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  29. Hi everyone,


    let me take the time to reply to some of your comments...

    @Kraut & @MRanthrope
    yeah, and that's the big matter - everyone's oppinion of what's a life worth living and what's not is different :-/

    @Max
    it's funny how a cool topic can make a otherwise sucky documentary interesting. I try to use the same trick in my posts to hide my bad writing skills ;)

    @anomanomisanom & @Fail Troll
    again, it's all a matter of perception. for some people who didn't suffer any brain damage but still aren't able to let's say eat and breath without the help of machines all they still care about is to stay alive as long as they physically can to see for example how their kids grow up, or to wittness how the world around them changes, how technology advances etc.

    @balls_of_steel
    I know, having to make that decision for someone close to you is probably even harder than making it for yourself. I belief to know what most of my family members would want to happen with them in different situations, we actually talked about stuff like that. That's not a pleasant thing to talk about, but it feels good knowing that just in case a situation like that arises you won't have the horror of desperately trying to figure out what someone would have wanted to happen.
    I for myself even put my specific wishes for various situations into writing and made sure that they are legally valid and binding by an expert. I did so because I don't want my family to eventually have to make a decision they could possibly regret because they weren't sure what to do. that this writing would get me "out" of situations that I wouldn't want to keep living in is only like a neat side effect for me, as stupid as it sounds.

    @Keato Lockheart
    sounds interesting, but sadly there's only a english release of that book, and I refuse to order anything that would cost me double the item value only for shipping and tax :P
    maybe I'll get it if I ever reach the payout sum with adsense, hehe.

    @Pikamitsu
    you're right, eternity seems terrifying. but if you also believe in heaven and angels and that kinda stuff it doesn't sound all that bad anymore. ;)

    @Marduk
    I totally get you. too old, or too disabled, yes, there are lots of cases where I think it's kind of wasted. not exactly the money, I wouldn't put a price on a life now matter how screwed it may be, but in time, man hours which could be used to speed up processes I find to be more important. but in the end it's not up to us to decide who's worthy of living and who's not, and to be honest I think the world is better off this way.


    alright, now I can't reply to everyone, but be assured the only reason I left you others out is because I had no witty response in handy at the time of writing this :P
    thanks for all of your awesome comments guys and girls!

    greets,
    Wesh

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  30. I'd prefer to have the plug pulled than spend the rest of life as a vegetable.

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  31. HI WESH,

    I TRIED TO FOLLOW YOU BACK FROM YOUR USER PROFILE BUT YOU HAD NO LINK! I DIDN'T SEE YOUR COMMENT ON "GIMME GIMME GIMME" UNTIL RIGHT NOW - SORRY I MISSED IT. BUT I'VE FOUND YOU NOW!

    WHAT DO YOU MEAN, "LOTS OF CAPSLOCKS"? I DON'T GET IT.

    KAGE

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  32. Stem cells man, they're making insane scientific breakthroughs. there will soon be almost no ailment we cannot cure.

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  33. Interesting post, I'll be following.

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  34. I wish life was a game with re spawns :)

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  35. Phew. I was lost trying to wrap my head around the first few statements, but I caught on. Turned out to be a great read!

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  36. reminds me of a saying - kind of unrelated - the brave dies once and the cowards die a million deaths.....
    the concept of death had fascinated man like nothing else.

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  37. good stuff bro, very cool insight

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  38. Zombie Nazi's, the new master race.

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  39. Very thought provoking. Good post. :)

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  40. Good post. I love the first few lines hehe

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  41. don't worry about death so much. just live your life to the fullest.

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  42. Wow thats nuts, never thought of it like that.

    Nice blog.

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  43. Maybe it's just me but I fully agree with Jorje. If you got time better don't think about death and use your life.

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  44. Very interesting stuff, keep 'em coming :)

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  45. It's funny that certain things like life are quantified by definitions. If a person is living so long as the body is warm and heart beating, can I use a similar definition for my heater? So long as it's blowing and hot, its alive?

    Or you can go philosophical. If I don't see you or hear you, I can assume you are neither dead nor alive, and that anyone I don't know do not exist... :P

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