(CNA)- Despite his parents’ protests that he showed “signs of life,” a four-month old boy who was severely brain damaged was legally declared dead and has been removed from a ventilator in the U.K.
Midrar Ali was disconnected from his ventilator sometime after judges agreed with doctors this month that the boy’s brain stem was dead. But the criteria used in the U.K. case is controversial, and “brain stem death” is not accepted for a diagnosis of death in many parts of the world.
A Catholic bioethicist says Ali’s case deserves careful medical and ethical judgment, and warns that the U.K. has adopted a “problematic” approach to defining death and proper medical care for the severely brain damaged.
“Brain stem death does not necessarily equal death,” said Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D., a bioethicist and director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center.
“Britain has adopted an unorthodox and problematic approach whereby they try to classify somebody with irreversible brain stem damage as ‘dead’ even if other, higher centers of the brain manifest integrative functionality.” CONTINUE