Watching her wheeled out of that hospital room heart still beating was certainly the hardest moment of my life so far. We never saw the actual 'plug' pulled and i actually prefer(red) it that way.
I deeply empathize that the decision was all on you. doing it collectively was a hair easier. hope your emotional/personal recovery has been as swift as possible.
I lost one of my closest friends a few years ago to an accident but was heartened to know that his organs went on to help others.
I carry an organ donor/DNR card with me just in case, if my brain is kinda dead or even if my heart is not beating, just do whatever with the body.
That's life as we know it, the world will keep going.
Living wills are legally binding documents: http://info.legalzoom.com/living-wills-binding-documents-220...
It's also the family, not the person having written the will several months or years ago, that has all the latest details on the condition and the options.
And on the other end of the spectrum, you have people in suffering with consciousness who wish to be euthanized.
There's may be no "one size fits all" morality to be found here.
Further, nowadays, if you have a heart attack and no one makes an effort to resuscitate you, and there's someone who knows how to nearby, most people would argue that that person has forgone a moral obligation.
This is one of the arguments made for cryonics, in two ways. If in the future it's possible that we'll be able to revive a cryopreserved body, then you can't really consider someone dead if they're cryopreserved within a certain timeframe after their heart stops (just as today you can't consider someone dead within the ~5 minutes after their heart stops, because of CPR, etc). What's more, the people of the future will have a moral obligation to revive cryopreserved bodies, because not doing so would be the equivalent of not attempting CPR on someone who just had a heart attack. This is the response given when someone asks why anyone in the future would be bothered to go through the hassle of reviving cryopreserved bodies.
Food for thought.
What could work is developing some kind of human version of torpor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torpor), slowing down biological processes to a crawl, which would not only help with space travel but could buy people enough time for medical treatments to mature to the point of being feasible. It has the advantage of being fairly common in the mammal world, so genetically it's a lot closer than, say, what frogs do to survive being frozen.
You can't buy decades, but you can buy five to ten years, and for some people that would be all the difference they need.
Cryonics almost certainly works. They use chemicals which prevent the formation of ice crystals. Which is like 90% of the reason most animals can't survive being frozen. They've demonstrated certain organs can be revived from cryopreservation - a rabbit kidney was frozen and then successfully revived. Which is incredible. And even if we don't have the technology to revive everything today, I do believe it will be possible in the future. The point of cryopreservation is that everything is preserved completely. The information in your brain - what makes you you, is preserved.
Until then I'm going to insist it's a cash grab because it's completely unproven.
Unless you are claiming that technology is going to magically stop advancing right now in 2016, it's a good idea to get cryopreserved.
I like the idea but this seems highly impractical. "Some people," in this case likely means a tiny faction of a percent. I.e. those who nearly die of a disease for which a cure is less than a decade away. The remaining majority are huge drains on resources. It hardly seems ethical when so many living people go with out basic medical care.
It won't be long before they've mapped out the genome to the point where tools like CRISPR allow them to swap out broken genes or re-enable genes that were erroneously disabled. When that happens there's going to be literally thousands and thousands of diseases that go from a death sentence to an inconvenience.
Some conditions aren't immediately fatal, but you are living on borrowed time, and those people might benefit by being put in a form of suspended animation. Those faced with the choice between toughing it out to a death that's going to be undignified and painful and, where applicable, some kind of assisted suicide could have a third choice: Sleep it out and hope it works. If it doesn't, you still have the other options, but the decay could be slowed down enough you've bought some time.
If done right, torpor or something like it would be very inexpensive. You'd just need someone to monitor vital signs, no big deal, as there's no expensive cryogenic equipment involved. Just a cozy place to rest that's kept at a comfortable temperature and fresh air. I can imagine this is like the most chill "coffin hotel" you've ever been in since people only wake up once every few months.
I really hope smart people are working on artificial organs or growing organs in pigs, instead of the focus being on devising tests when a person is really dead or not with the intention to harvest theirs.
She also told me that after a while, you could tell when a person was dead, and their body just a piece of meat kept alive by machines. She said she wasn't sure if there really is a "soul" but whatever it was that made the difference between a human and a pile of meat was gone. She hated the families that kept the meat alive, while feeling sorry for them at the same time. She eventually burned out from so many years in the ICU and switched to a different type of nursing.
Before the body reacted to pain in ways I recognised and even the breathing was somehow 'his' even if he could not breathe on his how. The higher functions of the brain was hopefully gone at this point.
Afterwards, it was nothing left. Just a mechanical thing.
 This is a name used in science fiction stories to describe the machine that mechanically repairs tissue damage.
The only thing slowing down this development timeline is the FDA approval process, and that doesn't slow down research much at all.
Given that, I would be surprised if it took 60 years. It may not be 6 but I would put it more around 12 - 15 when we start human trials of organ or limb re-generation.
EDIT: Not the specific link I was thinking about, but here are 2 of many others:
It doesn't really change your point, but just an FYI the studies that try to measure deaths caused by medical mistakes often can be dubious due to their definition of "mistake". For example, there are clear mistakes like mixing up patients and giving the wrong treatment to the wrong patient. But many mistakes are more questionable like if a patient is given the correct treatment but they are one of the few to experience a known but deadly side effect. The hospital is still the one to have directly caused the death, but it would be hard to argue they should have acted differently. The number of deaths can vary widely depending on how events like the latter example are categorized.
Choosing one and not another, all reasonable, isn't a mistake. Having a know side effect that can't be predicted to a specific patient isn't a mistake.
Not all mistakes are avoidable - sometimes there is no way to know if something is a mistake until after you do it, but it is still a mistake.
I think mistake should imply doing something even though a better option was available and known (or should've been known) to the person making the decision.
If you want to make a significant impact here, you would need to hire more staff.
2) Heart Disease
3) Medical Error
Analyzing medical death rate data over an eight-year period, Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S. Their figure, published May 3 in The BMJ, surpasses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's third leading cause of death—respiratory disease, which kills close to 150,000 people per year.
Consider this case: You have cancer. You can do nothing about it, and die in 3 months, or you can have an operation, that has a 60% chance of curing you, 30% chance of doing nothing, and 10% chance of killing you.
Most people would choose to undergo the operation, knowing the risks.
Those that die will be cataloged as 'medical error'. I'd argue that cancer should get at least an equal share of the blame.
I recommend everyone ask their doctor what a p-value means before listening to any stats like this. Here is just one of many horror stories about the poor understanding of stats that pervades medicine (TBH though, this is mostly the fault of stats education):
"Nearly 40 years ago the New England Journal of Medicine published a short survey of doctors’ understanding of the results of diagnostic tests.1 The participants, all doctors or medical students at Harvard teaching hospitals, were asked, “If a test to detect a disease whose prevalence is 1/1000 has a false positive rate of 5%, what is the chance that a person found to have a positive result actually has the disease, assuming that you know nothing else about the person’s symptoms or signs?” This wasn’t a very difficult question, which made the results all the more shocking. Fewer than a fifth of participants gave the correct answer, and most thought that the hypothetical patient had a 95% chance of having the disease.
Of course, this was a long time ago, and medical curriculums now contain much more in the way of statistics and probabilistic reasoning. You might expect that if the exercise were repeated today almost everyone would give the right answer. But you’d be wrong. Earlier this year a similar study was carried out, also in hospitals in the Boston area of Massachusetts, and the results were no better.2 Most doctors who were asked exactly the same question thought that the patient had a 95% chance of having the disease."
The Daily Fail isn't exactly renowned for quality reporting and journalism.
You can get medical bracelets for certain things, maybe something along those lines?
"He suggested using the newly invented stethoscope to listen for a heartbeat – if the doctor didn’t hear anything for two minutes, they could be safely buried."
"An electrical engineer from Brooklyn, New York, had been investigating why people die after they’ve been electrocuted – and wondered if the right voltage might also jolt them back to life."
"Starting in the 1950s, doctors across the globe began discovering that some of their patients, who they had previously considered only comatose, in fact had no brain activity at all."
"They had discovered the ‘beating-heart cadavers’, people whose bodies were alive though their brains were dead."
"In some cases, their hearts kept beating and their organs kept functioning for a further 14 years – for one cadaver, this strange afterlife lasted two decades."
Now... If the brain were dead (by my understanding of a 'dead' organ - its cells have died), wouldn't the brain start either decomposing or being absorbed by the body? If that happens, it's a pretty clear indication that the brain is truly dead. But if it doesn't happen, doesn't that mean the brain cells are still alive (just not communicating for some reason)? And in that case (living cells with a blank EEG), couldn't there be a way to jump-start their communication, as was previously discovered with hearts?
I'm sure that I'm completely ignorant of some critical factor, and look forward to your thorough discussion of it...
On the other hand, rarely comatose or persistent vegetative patients do wake up, or, more frighteningly, were awake and aware for years. I did some of my PhD research with a person who had a brain-stem stroke in 1980, who lived in a care center, and they didn't realize he was still awake and trying to communicate until 1992.
My understanding of comatose/vegetative patients is that it is a different case, where an EEG would actually show some activity. Is that correct?
As for the patient you mention... Wow! Fascinating!
What is the definition of 'awake' in his case, how did they not know, and how did they discover??
The name for aware but apparently comatose cases is locked-in syndrome.  A nightmare scenario for sure.
Not a doctor, but, I imagine scarring occurs if there is damage. If half your brain has been replaced by scar tissue, it might not be 'dead' in the sense that all of its cells are dead, but no amount of shocking will make it work.
As far as any thoughts of restarting communication, I have no idea.
> If their efforts are stalled by a lack of oxygen, neurons are rapidly inundated with ions which build to toxic levels, causing irreversible damage.
I mean, we may get into a discussion when does the brain cell die, like what if it still is a living cell, but can't act as a neuron anymore.
But it can be sufficient to keep the brain from functioning other than at an exceptionally basic level. E.g., no voluntary movement, speech, understanding, consciousness.
I'd probably call emergency services like most sane people. I'm sure even an OB would to the same even though technically they have the skills to do a C section. Even if they were already at the hospital.
Finally heart attacks are not necessarily or even usually fatal.
The training for emergency room doctors is for us to have the c section kit ready to go on arrival of the woman and be prepared to open the abdomen after the first cycle or compressions/resus - otherwise we have left it too long and the fetus is suffering. My point in illustrating this was only to show that It is interesting to consider how quickly you need to make an enormous decision.
Scenario #1: If you pull the lever, you'll divert the trolley toward a 6-month-old infant in a carriage, killing it instantly. Do you hesitate such that you risk missing the opportunity to save the 6 people?
Scenario #2: If you pull the lever, you'll divert the trolley to a 9-week-old, 1-inch long fetus in a petri dish (being transported and kept viable outside the womb due to new science). Do you hesitate such that you risk missing the opportunity to save the 6 people?
If you answered yes to #2, you're either delusional or a morally troubled person. The modern anti-abortion movement requires adopting a disgusting equivocation. Sane, honest people can value fetal life without equivocating it to an actual child.
Granted, the trolley problem has many flaws. There are many ways to legitimately weasel out of answering the question, but I think it fairly exhibits the senseless equivocation people make in the debate.
The same logic that permits one to claim a fetal life is equivalent to a born human (or, especially, a conscious human) is the same logic that permits one to claim that Jews are subhuman. Both cases discard the necessity for any objective standard (whatever that standard is, and whether it's definite and knowable in all cases).
In as much as I impugned the poster's personal character, I apologize. I'll leave my posting unedited as it's a fair criticism, and editing it would be self-serving. I endeavour to criticize specific behavior and opinions, not individuals. My post was sloppy and wrong in that regard.
It's the easiest option to defend in front of an audience and it will leave no witnesses in any of these scenarios ;)
For some cases, we can never loosen this definition enough.
I can't tell if this is an error, as if it should have been "[...] patient is the correct term" or if the neurologist is trying to be funny, or make a point. IMO the writer/editor should've omitted this quote or clarified its context and overall meaning to the article.
It's not 100% clear why the author included the quote there, but the sentence itself makes sense to me, and doesn't sound funny or non-serious.
Too bad we put up with a worse than 4% error rate when applying the death penalty.
And there's definitely a difference between directly killing someone and withholding extraordinary measures. What's extraordinary and what's ordinary will, of course, change over time with the progress of technology.
I'm not troubled by not tasking medical staffs with regulating hormones &c., as is required to keep brain-dead people alive. I'm rather more troubled by keeping them alive only to remove their organs piece by piece (but I find dead-donor transplantation morally problematic at best, anyway).
"Some may question your right to destroy ten billion people. But those who understand know you have no right to let them live."