Revista de Cercetare si Interventie Sociala

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The Social Meaning of Death and its Implications for Organ Procurement

The Social Meaning of Death and its Implications for Organ Procurement


Cristina GAVRILOVICI, Magdalena STARCEA, Ioana HIRISCAU, Ingrith MIRON, Liviu OPREA

Cod: ISSN: 1583-3410 (print), ISSN: 1584-5397 (electronic)
Dimensiuni: pp. 221-232

How to cite this article:

Gavrilovici, C., Starcea, M., Hiriscau, I., Miron, I., Oprea, L. (2017). The Social Meaning of Death and Its Implications for Organ Procurement. Revista de Cercetare si Interventie Sociala, 58, 221-232.


Today, the protocols for “donation after cardiac death” allow clinicians to harvest viable vital organs as soon as cardiopulmonary arrest is deemed to be irreversible, typically several minutes after diagnosing a loss of circulatory and respiratory function. Although these patients are not brain dead, the irreversibility of circulatory death make these patients suitable donors for organ donation, provided that organ harvesting will take place as soon as possible. In the neurologic definition of death, a person is dead when the whole-brain is dead. The continued circulation of blood helps to prevent the organs from deteriorating, making this method superior. Brain dead patients still display some residual functions of life, making non-health professionals wondering if they are really dead. However, the brain death criteria focus on an event, which can be precisely timed and detected with enough certainty to justify an irrevocable action, such as organ procuring. In this paper we analyze two concepts that surrounds death, both with important implications for the society in general and health professionals in particular: “irreversibility” – specifically related to the traditional definition of death (the cardio-pulmonary definition) and “personhood” – especially related to neurologic criteria of death (the brain death definition).


death, brain death, organ procurement, definition of death, transplantation, donation after circulatory death, organ procurement.

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