Doctor renews call for brain death to be called legally dead

By Yin Han Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/6 23:23:40

A Chinese national political adviser has suggested that the country recognize brain death as legally dead, while lawyers called for cautious discussions.

After repeatedly calling for the legal recognition of brain death in 2015 and 2016, Chen Jingyu, deputy head of the Wuxi People's Hospital in East China's Jiangsu Province and a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), raised his proposal again during the conference of 2018, Legal Daily reported on Tuesday.

"Brain death has been proved to be an irreversible condition. Any rescue measure has no meaning for the brain dead person, but a lot of medical resources will be consumed during the process which also adds financial burden to the family," said Chen.

Brain death is still not a legally recognized concept in China. Although discussions on brain death legislation began nearly 20 years ago, no substantial changes have occurred.

"Keeping a brain dead patient alive is also a medical resource waste issue." Some patients, for example, cannot receive effective treatment in time since the ICU wards are occupied by brain dead patients, Legal Daily reported, citing Chen.

However, knowledge of brain death among the Chinese has spread slowly. An online survey carried out by Sina in 2011 of 13,420 people found that 49 percent thought that there was no major difference between brain death and heart failure.

"In a traffic accident, for example, the amount of compensation will be very different depending on whether the victim is confirmed dead or not. Disputes cannot take place between the responsible party and the family of the victim," Wang Wen, a Beijing based lawyer, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Wang said the proposal was raised in good faith, but considerations and discussions from multiple perspectives are necessary before making it legal.

Some countries have recognized brain death as legally dead, including the US and Japan.


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