Brad Mattes is the president and CEO of Life Issues Institute headquartered in Cincinnati. Their mission is that of assuring through education, equal protection under the law for all living humans from the beginning of their biological life at fertilization until natural death.
When abortion is discussed, it’s sometimes referred to as an industry. Brad says there’s something called the ‘organ transplant industry’ as well. While he recognizes the positive aspects of organ transplants, he also realizes there are some things that should cause people to proceed with caution.
According to Brad, this industry is huge. Dick Teresi, who once supported the definition of brain death and transplantation, uncovered some alarming realities. He wrote a book called, ‘The Undead’. He found that the transplant industry generates 20 billion dollars annually. In addition, spending on immune-supressing drugs (to keep your body from rejecting organs) is a billion dollar per annual industry alone.
Then you have the money that’s involved with the hospitals. For example, one heart transplant can mean a million dollars in services provided by the hospital which would be generated revenue they would receive from an insurance company.
So when you look at the billions of dollars involved in organ transplantation, you realize that some of the motivation could be less than admirable. What Life Issues Institute has found over the years is that those patients who are deemed to have a lower quality of life are those who ‘get the short end of the stick’.
Since organ transplantation is tied to the subject of ‘brain death’, Brad defined the phrase. The phrase and its definition was developed in the 1960’s using the technology of the era. At that time there were medical breakthroughs in organ transplantation. What the medical community needed was a definition of death that would accommodate the harvesting of organs so that the demand could be met for various organs.
Brad investigated the American Academy of Neurology Guidelines for brain death determination. What he discovered is that brain death determination is opinion-based and not established by evidence-based methods.
Brain death used to be determined by cessation of brain and brain stem function. The problem is that new technology shows us that when people are determined to be brain dead, experts are finding out that about 40% of them are actually aware of their surroundings. So just because we can’t measure brain activity, the body isn’t necessarily dead.
What this means is that there are various definitions as to when brain death occurs. Brad cited research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed of over 500 hospitals that were researched, there were huge discrepancies in how they determined whether a person is brain dead.
What tests are available to determine brain death? Are there any examples of people who have recovered, contradicting their diagnosis of being brain dead? Are hospital ethics committees on your side? Can a family challenge the diagnosis of brain-death? Are accounts of hospital intimidation over this issue unfounded?
Brad has the answers to these questions and much more when you review this important edition of Crosstalk.
www.lifeissues.org (For medical, end of life resources discussed on this program.)
Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network