Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA)

March 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA)

George Bush was the current President of the United States when he commissioned the  study of defining a uniform law on death.

At the President’s Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research they recommended and concluded that, in light of the ever-increasing powers of biomedical science and practice, a statue is needed to provide a clear and socially accepted basis for making determinations of death.

The commission, composed of ten men recommend the adoption of such a statute by the Congress for areas coming under federal jurisdiction and by all states as a means of achieving uniform law on defining death throughout the Nation.

The Uniform Determination of Death Act says, An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.

Surgery No person authorized by law to determine death, who makes such a determination in accordance with the Act, should, or will be, liable for damages in any civil action or subject to prosecution in any criminal proceeding for his acts or the acts of others based on that determination. 

Note: “This act is silent on acceptable diagnostic tests and medical procedures.… The medical profession remains free to formulate acceptable medical practices and to use new biomedical knowledge, diagnostic tests and equipment.”

Different Medical Standards

Each state has passed the UDDA and it is left to each doctor or hospital to determine the “acceptable medical standards”. One hospital could require one test, another hospital two doctors, some hospitals a nurse (Michigan). Some require an Apnea test, others two Apnea tests.

Depending on where you end up in a Trauma Center or hospital your “legal death” could be determined by different standards.

Life Processes in those pronounced “Brain Dead”

Regardless of the UDDA which defined death in the United States Dr. Alan D Shewmon has compiled a list of life processes that brain-dead patients continues to exhibit: 

  • Cellular wastes continue to be eliminated, detoxified, and recycled.
  • Body temperature is maintained, though at a lower than normal temperature and with the help of blankets.
  • Wounds heal.
  • Infections are fought by the body.
  • Infections produce fever.
  • Organs and tissues continue to function.
  • Brain-dead pregnant women can gestate a fetus.
  • Brain-dead children mature sexually and grow proportionately.

The other valid argument for Dr. Shewmon’s 150 cases is that in science, all you need is one case to falsify a theory.  Teresi, Dick (2012-03-13). The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers–How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death

If brain death is true death, then even one case (Dr. Shewmon has 150) destroys that theory.

Flickr Photo credit 

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