What’s Wrong with the World

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"Only the good die young, so I didn't go."

Email from the daughter:

Thought you might find this little story interesting. Shows why you should never "pull the plug." love you dad

I don't know about "never", but caution would seem to be in order. You've been declared brain dead, your family is saying its final farewell, and the doctors are standing by ready to remove your organs. Suddenly, you begin to move...

Comments (13)

Probably not a coincidence that it happened in Texas.

Wasn't it Oklahoma?

There's a good discussion in the thread here:


A commentator who sometimes comments here at W4 (Serious George) comments in this thread that if a PET scan was used to diagnose brain death, this was the wrong test.

It also could have been Massachusetts, or even Florida, or anywhere.
Not so long ago doctors were going to pull the plug on an eleven year old girl who had been severely beaten by her foster parents, Boston as I recall. A last minute reprieve from a state official saved her life. She is recuperating and improving.

Caution is most certainly in order, and it doesn't know geographic boundaries.

Actually, it wasn't a plug they were going to pull (which implies a ventilator). They were going to dehydrate Haleigh Poutre to death. The court-appointed guardian visited her and found that she handed him a yellow block when told to do so by a nurse. Horrified, he canceled the dehydration plans. Not that it would have been excusable to dehydrate her to death even if she hadn't been able to hand the block. There was no question of her being physically dead. But I think the doctors have a lot of questions to answer there about what they told the court, because it really looks like outright misrepresentation.

In this case, the young man was believed to be truly physically dead and they were indeed going to "pull the plug"--stop the ventilator. However, it looks as though the tests were not done correctly, and there are real questions as to whether doctors always perform the tests for physical death on ventilator patients properly. It's a real problem and has quite rightly made people nervous about agreeing to be organ donors.

Lydia, thanks for the correction, I did use "pull the plug" as a figure of speech but didn't recall the exact means by which she was intended to be murdered, accidentally of course.

Similar to the Schiavo case in Florida, the one where we were told to mind our own business. Strange isn't it that these other cases, as above, receive such little publicity?

I sometimes feel in these conversations as though I'm in a slightly false position or am in danger of giving people an incorrect impression: On the one hand, I think it's crucial to distinguish the _intent_ of true brain death from anything like "persistent vegetative state" and so forth. This is very important for legal reasons. Organs _must not_ be able to be taken from people who are unequivocally physically alive but merely persistently unconscious. So I'm constantly dinning home the fact that "brain dead," used correctly, means literally physically dead and that *if* that's a correct diagnosis, stopping a ventilator is not immoral.

On the other hand, I'm actually quite skeptical and see serious grounds for concern in the actual diagnosis of brain death, regardless of its intended meaning. Unfortunately it seems that it may be very difficult to be sure that brain stem activity really has stopped, and doctors do not appear to apply uniform and unequivocally reliable criteria. In short, there are too many mistakes of the sort mentioned in the main post, so my attempts to say what "brain dead" really means and distinguish it from PVS, etc., should _not_ be taken as an endorsement of organ donation from donors diagnosed as brain-dead.

The story was from OK City, but the hospital incident appears to have occured at "United Regional Healthcare System in Wichita Falls, Texas," according to the story. Of course it could happen anywhere. I just recall during the Shiavo debacle some folks saying that Texas (and yes I believe, Florida, too) were states where pulling feeding tubes had become routine... presumably because it saves a lot of money, and those states (more than most) are beholden to the "Health Insurance" industry.

This wasn't, though, a case where anybody was pulling a feeding tube. But they had made a mistake on whether he was dead and were erroneously prepping him for organ donation. The family are saying he really was dead and God brought him back as a miracle. I'm saying the real divine intervention may have been in God's inspiring a relative of his who was in the room at the last minute to start trying to get him to react. The guy eventually stuck a fingernail under this young man's fingernail, whereupon the supposed corpse pulled his arm away and across his body. That convinced the nurse that something was fishy and he might not really be dead!

in the case above the relative was a nurse who preformed two tests, the under the fingernail and running (I think it was a key) of something on the length of the foot. The reaction was definate, thank the Lord. In the case of the child who had been beaten, the adoptive father was fighting allowing her to die as then he would have been charged with murder. The ironic thing for him is that though she still has a long way to go she will be able to testify at his trial.

Here's an article concerning the way in which some ethicists and physicians look at brain death. Almost as interesting as it is horrifying.

Nancy Valko also once wrote a devastating critique of the Truog-Robinson article, but I can't find it on the internet anymore. (I have a hard copy.) If the full version of the above-linked article is not available, you can get it by registering (free).

Or email me and I'll send it to you.

And the above about "Our portal will describe to you everything about the aerodynamic properties of automobile" relates to this topic how exactly?

Apologies if my Russian is a bit rusty. I still haven't gotten a complete grasp of cyrillic, unfortunately.

Thanks, Ari. I'll delete it.

No prob, Lydia! ;^)

Although, I've gotta say -- that's the first spam I've seen in Russian!

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