Defining Death: The Case for Choice
by Robert M. Veatch and Lainie F. Ross
Georgetown University Press, 2016
(167 pages, $29.95, paperback)
reviewed by Allen H. Roberts II
Within a year of the first human heart transplant in 1967 by Dr. Christiaan Barnard in South Africa, the medical community at large anticipated the inevitable transplantable organ supply shortfall, and moved quickly to propose a new definition of death. Hitherto, from the dawn of the age, death had been determined to have occurred by the observation that a person was unresponsive, was not breathing, and had permanently lost his pulse. The need for transplantable organs changed all that, and the so-called concept of "brain death" was born. To have an option of declaring patients brain dead, rather than dead by traditional "circulatory" criteria, would in the years to come liberate untold numbers of livers, kidneys, hearts, and lungs—destined otherwise to be buried or burned—to the great benefit of many thousands who suffer the most horrid of diseases. "The gift of life," that is, a donated organ, has been for myriad children and adults, precisely that.
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
Allen H. Roberts II M.D., M.Div., M.A., is Professor of Clinical Medicine and Chair of the Clinical Ethics Committee at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D. C.
Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!
Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
more on book reviews from the online archives
more from the online archives
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor