Analysis Of How To Know If You Re Dead By Mary Roach

578 Words3 Pages

In “How to Know If You’re Dead,” author Mary Roach explores the definition of brain death and how declaring death when the heart is beating, but there is no brain activity, has been extremely controversial. The essay explains how modern medicine has created the problem of classifying death by developing technology to maintain life on a respirator despite there being no brain activity. Roach explains that, although there is a general public understanding of brain death, the fact that the heart may still be beating causes many to feel that the patient is still alive. In addition to providing background information and rationale about organ harvesting, the essay’s narration also allows me to visualize the process and to understand the controversy surrounding it. Because of this visualization, I appreciate the author’s professional discussion of a process which could be considered grotesque. For instance, Roach describes each stage in the process on a cadaver known as “H” who, at first, does not “feel or smell dead” and “looks very much alive inside” (480). Then, by the end of the process, “H” appears dead with “her skin dried and dulled at the edges of incision” (Roach 484). Roach offers additional detailed, scientific descriptions of the organ …show more content…

I found thought-provoking Roach’s summary of a murder case in which lawyers argued brain death is not actual death and does not meet the definition of murder. The defense attorney contended that the patient did not die until doctors harvested the organs and, thus, the defendant “Andrew Lyons hadn’t murdered the man, the organ recovery surgeon had” (Roach 482). Roach’s discussion of this case as well as instances when a patient is unable to function but is not brain dead provides meaningful examples allowing me to fully understand both sides of the

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