Cambridge University Press
The human brain has been at the center of medicolegal debates since the late 1960s, when efforts began to develop an alternative definition of death: one centered on brain function instead of heart and lung function. Technological developments and new surgical techniques made this new definition of death, sometimes called "brain death," seem necessary. Mechanical ventilation, a technology that allows respiration and therefore heartbeat to continue after the brain ceases functioning, and heart transplantation, which requires a corpse with a beating heart as a donor, necessitated the definitional alternative. Irreversible cessation of all functions of the brain has been accepted both medically and legally as confirming the death of an individual. The medicolegal discussions have since concentrated on examination of the brain in living humans.
George J. Annas,
Imagining a New Era of Neuroimaging, Neuroethics, and Neurolaw
American Journal of Law & Medicine
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