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Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles That Are Saving Lives Against All Odds

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  • Posted October 18, 2009

    Gupta misinforming about brain death

    In the book, on his TV show, and in interviews promoting the book, Gupta is unmistakably confusing coma, persistant vegetative state, and brain death. He's clearly linking his stories of recovery from vegetative state with brain death and organ procurement for transplantation. Brain death is an entirely separate condition from both persistant vegetative state, and coma. Mark Ragucci was never declared brain dead. The NIH (, and many other institions and organizations concerned with medical information, take pains to inform the public that there is a big difference. When a family is informed of a declaration of brain death they shouldn't have to feel that medical professionals are conspiring and failing to save their loved one. Yet Gupta seems determined to convince the public that brain death is just vegetative state, and that medical professionals are just reluctant to help the "brain dead".
    Why is he doing this? I can only guess. Its a far more dramatic story, and something sure to make him more money, to claim that more isn't done to save the brain dead because surgeons want organs for transplant. Organ transplantation has always sparked a primal irrational fear, generating more urban legends and ghoulish stories than any other medical procedure. Next of kin often refuse to allow organ donation because of the feeling that something ghoulish is being done with their loved one, and the suspicion that they are being allowed to die for someone else's benefit. Any number of news organizations, even respected ones, have, at one time or another, repeated the most bizarre urban legends of organ snatching as verified events. CNN has recently aired several reports claiming a vast US organ black market exists based on friend of a friend reports and one arrest of someone attempting to broker a kidney sale. Don't expect any followup reports or arrests.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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