A no-brainer

USA TODAY.com | Kim Hjelmgaard | 17 November 2017

Frankenstein monsterAn Italian doctor announced Friday that he will soon perform the world’s first human head transplant in China because medical communities in the United States and Europe would not permit the controversial procedure.

The surgery is anticipated to last more than 24 hours and require the services of several dozen surgeons and other specialists and cost up to $100 million. The purpose is to discover whether nerves that are cut and then reattached will regenerate “downstream”.

This article would be a good one for students to explore. It presents a current bioethical dilemma that is promoted as right for humanity by the doctor who desires to carry out the experiment.

The justification for the procedure is as follows, provided by Dr. Michael Sarr, editor of the journal, Surgery.

Doctors "have always been taught that when you cut a nerve, the 'downstream side,' the part that takes a signal and conducts it to somewhere else, dies," he said. "The 'upstream side,' the part that generates the signal, dies back a little — a millimeter or two — and eventually regrows. As long as that 'downstream' channel is still there, it can regrow through that channel, but only for a length of about a foot.”

This is why, he said, if you amputate your wrist and then re-implant it and line the nerves up well, you can recover function in your hand. But if your arm gets amputated at the shoulder, it won't be re-implanted because it will never lead to a functional hand.

"What Canavero will do differently is bathe the ends of the nerves in a solution that stabilizes the membranes and put them back together," Sarr said. "The nerves will be fused, but won't regrow. And he will do this not in the peripheral nerves such as you find in the arm, but in the spinal cord, where there's multiple types of nerve channels.”

Read more.

IMAGE CREDIT: ’Frankenstein observing the first stirrings of his creature. Engraving by W. Chevalier after Th. von Holst, 1831.' by Theodor von Holst. Credit: Wellcome Collection

Current definition of death challenged

bioedge.org | Xavier Symons | 2 Sep 2017
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By Brian Hall - Own work, Public Domain, Link

A new article in the Journal of Medical Ethics challenges conventional accounts of human death, and calls for a “new consensus” on the ethics of vital organ transplantation.

Bioethicists Michael Nair-Collins, of Florida State University College, and Frank Miller, of Weill Cornell Medical College, assert that patients who are brain dead may nevertheless be said to have retained the integrated functioning characteristic of human life. This is the case even when the patient is supposedly “dependent” on a ventilator.

The authors observe that that mechanical interventions (such as a ventilator) do not in and of themselves allow for the functioning of the lungs and heart -- other natural bodily operations play and equally important causal role…

The corollary to this is that the ethical justification for organ procurement from brain dead patients is undercut…

The authors suggest that “a new consensus” must be reached on the ethics of vital organ transplantation -- “one which is not premised on demonstrably false claims about the vital status of biologically living patients”. Read more

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...and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind ... the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind ...the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. -Genesis 1

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A SistersSite eBook

Flesh and Bone and The Protestant Conscience is an e-book on Amazon.com. It is 99¢ and in the Amazon lending library as well. The book description follows.

Would you let your conscience be your guide?

Does God care if the skin and bone of the dead are passed along to the living for medical uses? Is organ donation OK with God? Should you sign a Living Will?

Did you know that dead organ donors are often anesthetized before their organs are removed? Do you know the current definition of death? The conscience cannot function without facts.

As we ponder the ethics of in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and man-made chimeras, our thoughts trail off. How then should we live? (Ez 33:10)

How should a Christian think about euthanasia by starvation when doctors and the state attorney general all agree it is time to withhold feeding from a brain injured patient? Some things are family matters, but someday it may be our family.

Here is a small book to help you think about whether you want to sign your driver's license, donate a kidney, cremate your loved one, and many other practical questions that may arise in the course of your healthcare decisions or watch over others.

It offers a special focus on the doctrine of the Resurrection that is related to such decisions. Sunday School classes and Bible Study groups could use this book to facilitate discussion about the issues covered.