March Science Cafe – Brain Death and Organ Transplant

  • The Swansea Science Café offers opportunities for anyone to find out more about new, exciting and topical areas of science. Designed to be informal and entertaining, the café typically runs on the last Wednesday of every month at the Dylan Thomas Centre. Entry is free and talks start at 7:30 pm.


    Brain death and organ transplantation

    Professor Steve Edwards, College of Health and Human Science, Swansea University

    Wednesday 30th March at 7:30 pm

    The talk will summarise the debate which has taken place since brain death was first defined in 1968 by the Ad hoc committee of the Harvard Medical School. It will provide the background to the 1968 definition, and then proceed to discuss two significant later definitions: ‘whole brain death’ which currently informs diagnosis of death in the USA, and ‘brain stem death’ which is the definition of death adopted in the UK. It will assess the strengths and weaknesses of each of these two definitions. The talk will then move on to discuss a radical critique of attempts to define human death by focussing on brain-related criteria.  The critique will be assessed together with its implications for the practice of organ donation. The talk provides an illustration of the way in which issues which might seem purely scientific are, in reality, underpinned by philosophical and ethical presumptions.