Why Arafat cannot recover from 'brain death'

5th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 4 (AFP) - Confirmation of brain death, also known as encephalic death, is a medical precondition to declaring a patient dead, although he or she may still show signs of life maintained artificially on a life support system.

PARIS, Nov 4 (AFP) - Confirmation of brain death, also known as encephalic death, is a medical precondition to declaring a patient dead, although he or she may still show signs of life maintained artificially on a life support system.  

According to a French medical source, 75-year-old Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was late Thursday brain dead, and in an "irreversible coma."   

This concept of encephalic death, in other words just death, has to be applied before organs can be taken from a patient on a life support system.  

For life support teams, to say a patient is brain dead means he is dead.  

Two recordings of brain activity or two electroencephalograms (EEG) at intervals of four hours, and/or an arteriography showing absence of blood flow in the brain form the criteria enabling doctors to confirm irreversible brain death.  

Clinical criteria must also be added: these are total loss of consciousness and spontaneous activity, disappearance of all reflexes of the spinal column - for example the pupils not reacting to light, no reflex closing of eyelids when the cornea is touched  - and finally absence of spontaneous breathing.  

Life support teams of course take into account the medical context and apply precautionary measures in interpreting medical examinations such as an EEG or arteriogrpahy, for example in cases where medication might have been taken depressing the central nervous system, or in cases of hypothermia causing a drop in body temperature.   

Specialists say brain death is in principle applied only after verification in intensive care.  

The body may still show certain signs of life due to the life support machines and artificial respiration, causing it to breathe, the heart to beat and organs to function.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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