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Dr. Joseph Fins

Dr. Joseph Fins, chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College, argued that brain dead individuals are not beyond recovery in his speech about brain injuries and stigmas at The Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research in New Brunswick.

Dr.Fins,a professor of medical ethics, interviewed about 40 families that have dealt with brain-injured family members.

Human Brain He said he is appalled by the way brain injuries are usually handled.

“I want to tell you about empirical research conducted with the families,” Fins said.

“The research is so incredible, you wouldn’t believe it if it wasn’t verifiable,” he said.

All catechisms he learned about brain injuries as a student are no longer true, he said. He grew up with believing a brain dead person has no cognitive functioning.

Not dead

One family interviewed was related to a brain injury patient, Terri. Terri’s brain scans revealed new fibers that developed after he was diagnosed as brain dead, meaning that he had a dynamic brain, Fins said.

In acute care settings, doctors condemn brain dead patients to be nothing more than organ donors, but Fins said sometimes signs of recovery occur, such as facial expression and even speech.

“If a family says they saw something, what is the doctor going to say — wishful thinking?” Fins said.

In the case of my son, Jamie, all we heard was hopeless, never recover, “there has never been one case of a brain dead patient recovering. The moving of his arm to his chest was “just a reflex.”

Finn said he dissuades people from assuming that unconscious, brain-injured people are beyond all recovery.“A sizable cohort of people are going to do pretty well,” Dr. Fin said.

Rights Come To Mind

I am hopeful Doctor Fin’s empirical research will help people understand that brain death is not true death. All of his research will be published in his upcoming book, “Rights Come to Mind.”

I’ll be one of the first to buy the book and document some of this research, as he has interviewed over 40 families with over 80 hours of interviews. I guess you could say I am thrilled yet also surprised that a physician of bioethics is willing to come forward with his research in a field dominated by people who believe brain death is the same as true death.

It is time the legal fiction of brain death is exposed for what it is, a way to get healthy vital organs from an injured person to transplant in another person who is perceived more valuable. We do not have that right to determine who is valuable in life and who isn’t.

Excerpts from The Daily Targum,

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