Letter: Definitions of death
Monday 08 March 1999
Sir: I have been following the debate on organ transplants in your letters column with interest.
The popular perception has always been that before the start of organ retrieval the ventilator would be switched off and that the heart, starved of oxygen, would consequently cease to beat. Death, as the public understands it, would occur before the first incision. Clearly that is not so.
The man or woman who signs a donor card is not told that "after my death" is held by those who will accept his or her offer as meaning "after I am beyond recovery". In his mind there is a vast difference between being doomed to die and being a corpse, so many consents have been fraudulently obtained.
ESME M S THOMPSON
Hampton Wick, Surrey
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