I believe that organ donation is a gift one can offer to others. The issue has deep personal meaning for me and should be addressed in basic nursing education programs and in continuing education.
While acknowledging that your article was designed to encourage discussion, I believe that it further complicates an already emotionally charged issue calling for clear-headed reasoning. A heart may continue to beat with the assistance of mechanical ventilatory support even after brain function has completely ceased. In such cases, this artificial support may cause the victim to appear alive. That's why it's vital for healthcare professionals to know the three cardinal findings in adult brain death-coma or unresponsiveness, absence of brainstem reflexes, and apnea.1
Organ and tissue donation is a tough subject. As with all issues in the realm of life and death, it must be approached with both compassion and rationality.
VERONICA T. FRAZIER, RN, MA
Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
1. American Academy of Neurology. Practice Parameters: Determining Brain Death in Adults. http://www.aan.com/practice/guideline/uploads/118.pdf. [Context Link]