chapter  7
25 Pages

Surviving death

The reasons for challenging the aliveness of brain-damaged individuals were the fact that they would never become conscious again and, especially, that parts of their bodies could be used to help others in need if they were declared dead while blood was still perfusing their organs. These concerns led to the implementation of a complementary way to make a medical judgement of death in most countries of the world during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s: brain death. The ethics of organ transplantation is tied to the question of what kind of relationship we have to our own bodies. It is doubtful whether the brain transplanted into a new body would still be the same person as before the operation. In Holograms of Fear, novelist Slavenka Drakulić tells the story of her first kidney transplant, which takes place in Boston. The identity issues involved in transplanting inner organs are better understood as giving rise to, or strengthening, bonds between persons.