October 29, 2010

Public is invited to Bloomington parish’s Nov. 5 program on brain death

Dr. Paul ByrneDr. Paul Byrne, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Toledo Medical College in Toledo, Ohio, will give a presentation on brain death and its implication for organ donations on Nov. 5 at St. John the Apostle Parish, 4607 W. State Road 46, in Bloomington.

In 2005, Byrne was invited by the Vatican to speak on this topic at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Byrne, who is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, argues that there is no consensus on the diagnostic criteria for brain death and, as a result, what one doctor considers as death, another does not, leading to great arbitrariness.

A past president of the Catholic Medical Association, Byrne points out many circumstances where a person is declared brain-dead, and their heart is still beating, their skin is pink and their body is warm. There are also cases where brain-dead patients have “woken up” or “come back to life” or where a pregnant woman declared brain-dead delivered a healthy baby and her body produced breast milk.

Byrne, along with many others within the Church, are asking the question, “Was ‘brain death’ created for a solely utilitarian purpose—to acquire organs for transplant so that many lives would be saved?”

In an address on organ donation given by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2008, the Holy Father warned about adopting utilitarian and discriminatory criteria for obtaining organs.

“It is useful to remember that the various vital organs can only be extracted ‘ex cadavere’ [from a dead body], which possesses its own dignity and should be respected. Over recent years, science has made further progress in ascertaining the death of a patient. It is good, then, that the achieved results receive the consensus of the entire scientific community in favor of looking for solutions that give everyone certainty. In an environment such as this, the minimum suspicion of arbitrariness is not allowed, and where total certainty has not been reached, the principle of caution should prevail.”

The evening begins with Mass at 5:30 p.m. Byrne’s lecture starts at 6 p.m. then a light dinner will be provided.

There is no charge for the program, which is open to the public.

For more information or to make a reservation, call 812-330-1535 or send an e-mail to monica.siefker@sbcglobal.net. †

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