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Death and Dying by Rosamond Rhodes - Essay Example

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Death and Dying Over the past few decades, with technological advancements and progress of the society, a lot many concepts have undergone a sea change. The thoughts surrounding death and the process of dying are examples of such concepts. The article “Death and Dying by Rosamond Rhodes” assesses these dynamic concepts and the acceptable standards of decision making in this very sensitive issue…
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Death and Dying by Rosamond Rhodes
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Death and Dying by Rosamond Rhodes

From biological point of view, death is marked by a point where the entire or a part of the organ system ceases to work. Again, from a social point of view, death is marked by the point where a physician or a socially authorized person, after assessing a body, declares it dead. Moreover, from a moral point of view, death is that point where a person ceases to be a person i.e. when he/she can no longer act out of reasons or when they cannot be held responsible for their behavior. There are many criteria on the basis of which a person can be declared dead. First is the cardiopulmonary criterion whereby, when a person stops breathing and his/her heartbeat stops as well, the person is declared dead. This criterion has been followed by many organized religious bodies across the globe as a standard for declaring a person dead. Next is the brain dead criterion whereby a person is declared dead if his/her full brain cannot function and will never be able to function again. Studies have revealed that cardio respiratory death shortly follows brain death. Brain death, whereby a brain becomes permanently non functionary, has been accepted socially as a standard as good as the cardiopulmonary standard. The need to declare death on the basis of death of the brain has gained importance because it gives the physicians a perfectly legal and social sanction to declare a person dead, maintain the dead body using technology and remove the transplantable organs in a way such that it leads to a better functioning of the organs in the recipient. The third and most controversial criterion is the cortical death criteria. Cortical death is where a person is declared dead on the basis of the disability of a person to function as a person. Individuals who have lost cortical functions, as argued by some physicians and bioethics, have lost their capacity to feel and thus have lost everything that makes life worthwhile. Under this standard, people who are in a persistent vegetative state or those who are suffering from permanent coma can be declared dead. According to the author, by following this criteria of declaring a person dead, a scenario which would be physically, mentally and economically challenging for both patient and his/her loved ones can be avoided. Moreover, given the scarce medical resources, a significant amount of these resources can be saved by shifting them from patients in the persistently vegetative state to the treatment of those who have moral existence.2 But the reason behind the controversy surrounding this third criterion lies in the fact that different people perceive life in different ways. Whether a person should endure pain, humiliation or prolonged unconsciousness or not, is an individual’s own attitude/preference. The patients who are in an active state can make their own decisions by accepting or refusing to undergo a treatment. But for those who cannot make these decisions on their own, a person very chose to him/her takes these healthcare related decisions on his/her behalf. A person can, in advance choose a person whom he/she ... Read More
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