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The undead : organ harvesting, the ice-water test, beating heart cadavers : how medicine is blurring the line between life and death

by Teresi, Dick.

Format: Print Book 2012
Availability: Available at 3 Libraries 3 of 3 copies
Available (3)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction RA1063.T47 2012x
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
Call Number  RA1063.T47 2012x
Penn Hills Library Non-Fiction 610 TER
Location  Penn Hills Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  610 TER
Upper St. Clair Township Library Health & Fitness 610.1 TER
Location  Upper St. Clair Township Library
Collection  Health & Fitness
Call Number  610.1 TER

Important and provocative, The Undead examines why even with the tools of advanced technology, what we think of as life and death, consciousness and nonconsciousness, is not exactly clear and how this problem has been further complicated by the business of organ harvesting.

Dick Teresi, a science writer with a dark sense of humor, manages to make this story entertaining, informative, and accessible as he shows how death determination has become more complicated than ever. Teresi introduces us to brain-death experts, hospice workers, undertakers, coma specialists and those who have recovered from coma, organ transplant surgeons and organ procurers, anesthesiologists who study pain in legally dead patients, doctors who have saved living patients from organ harvests, nurses who care for beating-heart cadavers, ICU doctors who feel subtly pressured to declare patients dead rather than save them, and many others. Much of what they have to say is shocking. Teresi also provides a brief history of how death has been determined from the times of the ancient Egyptians and the Incas through the twenty-first century. And he draws on the writings and theories of celebrated scientists, doctors, and researchers--Jacques-B#65533;nigne Winslow, Sherwin Nuland, Harvey Cushing, and Lynn Margulis, among others--to reveal how theories about dying and death have changed. With The Undead, Teresi makes us think twice about how the medical community decides when someone is dead.

Death is here to stay
A history of death
The brain-death revolution
The new undead
The near-death experience
Postmodern death
The moment of death and the search for self.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* The Undead presents chilling, controversial, and, at times, comical commentary on physical death. The determination of death is fuzzier than you might imagine. There are cardiopulmonary death and brain-stem death, necrosis and apoptosis. There are those who straddle the divide between life and death beating-heart cadavers, individuals who've had near-death experiences, and even brain-dead pregnant women who carry fetuses to term. Physical signs of demise and clinical tests (EEG, apnea test, cerebral blood-flow studies) assist in establishing death, but the ultimate authority rests with medical opinion: You're dead when the doctor says you're dead. Teresi frets that physicians may be making moral judgments, not medical verdicts, when it comes to declarations of death. His other gripe involves the organ-transplantation industry (purportedly, a $20-billion-a-year business), which, understandably, revolves around recipients but arguably shortchanges donors and their next of kin. All sorts of experts on coma, animal euthanasia, and execution as well as undertakers, organ-transplant staff, neurologists, ethicists, and lawyers weigh in on the death debate. It is Miracle Max, a character in The Princess Bride, who sums things up best: There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.--Miksanek, Tony Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Suddenly, death doesn't seem so certain after all. In this brutally honest look at how doctors determine the moment of death, skeptical science writer and Omni magazine cofounder Teresi (The God Particle) relishes ripping into the 1968 Harvard team that formulated new criteria for determining death: "loss of personhood," or brain death. Doctors, Teresi says, can now "declare a person dead in less time than it takes to get a decent eye exam" by testing reflexes: "a flashlight in the eyes, ice water in the ears, and then an attempt to gasp for air" when the respirator is disconnected. Teresi interviews scientists who question the finality of brain death when the heart is still beating, and even the concept that personhood is located solely in the brain. More alarming, Teresi charges that the brain-death revolution is driven by the $20 billion-a-year organ transplant business. Teresi will scare readers to death with examples of how undependable brain-death criteria can be-one organ donor began to breathe spontaneously just as the surgeon removed his liver. But the more powerful effect of this scathing report should be the start of an uncomfortable but necessary conversation between doctors and potential organ donors. Agent: Janklow and Nesbit. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Death -- Proof and certification.
Death -- History.
Organ trafficking.
Near-death experiences.
Brain death.
Forensic pathology.
Publisher New York :Pantheon Books,2012
Language English
Description xi, 350 pages ; 22 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 293-334) and index.
ISBN 9780375423710
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