Medical View On Brain Death


As an Orthodox neurosurgeon I find the Rabbinical Council of America’s position on brain death both puzzling and disturbing (“RCA Backs Off Stand On Brain Death For Transplants,” Dec. 3).

The gist of the medical portion of its study implies that there is still some sort of question or controversy in the medical community regarding the validity of brain death. I can assure your readers that there is not, nor has there been one for 30 years. The counter arguments raised include the isolated postulations of two or three physicians (versus the tens of thousands that declare/have declared brain death around the world) and a National Enquirer-level anecdote of a supposed misdiagnosis in Oklahoma.

The moral consequence of the council’s stance is even more troubling. If a brain-dead body is still “alive,” how can the organ recipient or the halachic adviser to the recipient possibly justify this “murder”? This the RCA leaves unresolved. I believe we all deserve an answer to this question.

Union, N.J.