Aug 21, 2008 / 18:53 pm
A new report reveals that doctors in Colorado removed dying infants’ hearts from their bodies just minutes after the hearts stopped beating so the organs could be transplanted. While the doctors, who carried out the procedures with familial consent, argue that the legal and ethical definition of death is flawed, the infants did not meet criteria for brain death. One critic claimed it is an “open-and-shut case” to decide that the doctors violated medical ethics.
In typical practice, organs have been removed only after doctors determine that a donor’s brain has completely stopped working.
The Denver cases, detailed in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), were examples of a procedure called donation after cardiac death, the Associated Press says.
All three infants were on life support after suffering brain damage from lack of oxygen when they were born. They reportedly showed little brain function, but they did not meet the criteria for brain death.