[ASC-list] Whose identity would it be for the patient who recovers (would they ever truly recover) from this medical procedure?

Bianca Nogrady bianca at biancanogrady.com
Thu Feb 26 01:41:51 UTC 2015

This touches on an ongoing debate around the definition of death, which is
particularly feisty around the question of brain death. (*warning, this is
going to get a little yucky)

Brain death has been challenged as being 'death' because the heart still
beats, and the lungs still breathe, albeit with mechanical assistance.
However the somewhat gruesome point has been made that if a brain dead
person still technically qualifies as 'alive' because their heart is
beating and their lungs are inflating, then the same argument could be made
about a decapitated body whose vital functions are also artificially
sustained by technology.

This has prompted the 'Where's Wally' thought experiment: if the
unfortunate Wally is separated into an artificially-sustained body, and an
artificially-sustained head, where is Wally?

The answer for most people would be that Wally remains with the head, not
the body.

I would suggest the same applies in this situation.


On 26 February 2015 at 12:13, Glenn Conroy <glenn1231946 at gmail.com> wrote:

> fy discussion if you choose
> Doctor plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body using
> procedures he believes will soon be ready
> http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/25/first-full-body-transplant-two-years-away-surgeon-claim?CMP=ema_632
> My question is simple and complex "Whose identity would it be for the
> patient who recovers (would they ever truly recover) from this medical
> procedure?
> Glenn Conroy
> Canberra
> _______________________________________________
> ASC-list mailing list
> list at asc.asn.au
> http://www.asc.asn.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=97&Itemid=115

*Freelance science journalist, author and broadcaster*
www.biancanogrady.com, 0411 420 913, Blackheath, NSW, Australia

*The End: The Human Experience of Death* (Random House Australia, May 2013)
www.theendbook.net, Twitter: @TheEndBook

*The Sixth Wave**: How to Succeed in a Resource-Limited World *(Random
House Australia, April 2010)
www.sixthwave.org, Twitter @SixthWaveBook
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