For centuries, the definition of
death has been permanent stoppage of the heart and respiration and the ending
of life. There is much discussion on if being brain dead is being declared
dead. While being pronounced brain dead, the brain is no longer working in a
full capacity, and never will again. A person who is brain dead may appear
alive such as a heartbeat, appear as if they are breathing normally and bring
up ethical issues on if this person has any recollection on their actions or
brain activity. Brain death has many controversies attached with it because the
person may seem like they are still fully functioning. This can also affect
family members and how they react to this diagnosis.

There is much debate on the
difference of brain death and being in a persistent vegetative state. When
there is proven evidence of no activity in the brain stem or base of the brain,
a person is pronounced dead no matter the other evidence of reflexes or appearance
of being alive. The argument for this paper, is that the family should be able
to determine if the patient should be taken potentially off life support or
stay on and continue breathing, and that brain death has been medically proven
to be considered death which includes no brain activity.

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There are many families who believe
their family member can still function and understand everything that is going
on while brain dead. That is not necessarily the case. While it may be hard for
families to let it sink in that brain death is actual death, the physicians can
determine this very well, and make an informed decision on if this person has
the potential to live the rest of their life or be kept on life support. On the
other hand, humans have the freedom to make their own choices, and family
should have the right to decide what to proceed with for their family member. They
may seem like they are alive, but not having brain activity means they cannot
properly function.

The ethical issues that arise from
this issue is patients in a persistent vegetative state may have lost their
ability to tasks and function like a person but not actually dead. Families
often don’t want to accept this diagnosis and there are many issues that arise
from that. Issues that arise include refusing to treat after the patient is
declared brain dead, or continuing to treat the patient that is no longer alive
according to the brain function because of the family’s wishes. The differences
of brain death, and persistent vegetative state will be later discussion
throughout this paper.  Many ethical issues
arise on if someone is declared brain dead and the heart still functions. The
point that I am arguing is once the brain is declared dead, the physicians should
have the right to decide if they continue to be on life support and potentially
suffer or have god let them go as if they would naturally. Issues such as
keeping the patient on a breathing machine has become a common controversy.

First off, determining what brain
death actually means, gives a good perspective on how it is determined by
medical professionals. “Brain death is defined as the irreversible loss of
function in the brain, including the brain stem” (Hennenman 50). This means
that once determined brain dead, there is no way of reversing it back to normal
brain activity. “The guidelines in the United States of diagnosing brain death
are determined by the Uniform Determination of Death Act. The determination is
based on identification of the coma, determining that this is irreversible, a
clinical exam and interpreting different tests” (Hennenmen 51-52). “All available
evidence suggests that the brain-dead have no change of regaining consciousness
or hence of making a meaningful recovery.” (Toit 153).

There are many guidelines that have to be
followed by a physician before one is actually diagnosed brain death. With all
the evolving technology, hospitals can use a lot of this technology to figure
out brain activity. According to a journal of medicine and philosophy,