Wanted Dead or Alive! Part 1 - An Overview


For centuries there was little debate about when a person had actually passed away.

Not so today.

Advances in modern medicine are truly marvelous—saving the lives of people who would have faced certain death just a few decades ago.

At the same time, however, those advances have created confusion about when a life actually ends and how to treat the dying.

This is especially true when it comes to declaring someone “brain dead” or in a “persistent vegetative state.”

Should such persons be kept on life support?  How can sure doctors be sure there is "no hope"?

These issues become even more complicated when the issue of organ donation is involved.

Should all organs be available for transplantation? What does "brain dead" mean? What about "persistent vegetative state"?  From a Biblical view, are there times when organ harvesting is not appropriate?

These are serious questions that every pro-life advocate needs to understand and be prepared to discuss with family, friends and legislators.

A few recent examples include:

In California, the parents of 13-year-old Jahi McMath were involved in a bitter fight to keep her alive after she developed complications following tonsil surgery.

The hospital wanted to disconnect her from a ventilator.  The parents, hoping for a miracle, said no and eventually won the right to have her transferred to a special facility.

In Texas, 33-year-old Marlise Munoz, who was 14 weeks pregnant, suffered a blood clot on her brain. She was declared brain dead and placed on life support equipment.

However, her husband claims his wife never wanted to be on life support and asked that it be stopped.  He also claims the baby will have defects that will make its life not worth living.

The hospital refused because Texas law prevents removing a pregnant woman from life support.

Pro-abortion advocates labeled the hospital’s stance as “dehumanizing.”

A court overruled the hospital and directed that Munoz be removed from life support.

The hospital complied on January 26 ending the life of both the mother and her then 23 week old child.

Closer to home, a Canton man collapsed at work, was rushed to the hospital and quickly declared brain dead by just one physician. 

It was the same day his wife was scheduled to have induced labor for their eighth child.

The heartbreaking situation was made even more tragic because the man’s Georgia driver’s license indicated he was an organ donor.

His wife was told the license designation was legally binding, that she had no say in the matter even though he had discussed his change of mind with her and his pastor, and they started preparing this still living man for organ harvesting.

A patient must be alive to successfully harvest hearts and lungs, forcing the physician to literally kill the patient to retrieve those organs.

Thankfully, GRTL President Dan Becker, who was asked to get involved, was able to prevent the hospital and its “organ harvesters” from getting their way.

Using very subjective criteria, one doctor can diagnosis brain death and in GA there is no appeal. At that point life support can be hastily removed which was the case here. The man died within days.  

“As the demand for organs increases, there is equal pressure on hospitals and physicians to take every possible opportunity—regardless of the circumstances—to turn patients into organ supermarkets,” Becker said.

“It’s literally a matter of life or death that pro-life advocates stay engaged and be ready to act when necessary,” Becker added.

The next article will discuss the various medical conditions associated with this vital issue.


By Wayne DuBois
GRTL Media Relations Advisor