Current Content
Volume 37 - Number 1
January/February 2011

Brain Death, the Pediatric Patient, And the Nurse
Pamela B. Zielinski

The term "brain death" has ties to medical, legal, ethical, and philosophical discourse, and is therefore a complicated and potentially ambiguous term. Some state that with brain death a person no longer has a "master regulating" organ integrating his or her organism as a whole, and the proponents of this view equate this loss of integration with clinical death. Others believe this is not a tenable reason to deem an individual who is brain dead as clinically dead; thus, controversy exists surrounding this issue, and nurses are not resistant to this debate. Whether one supports the definition of brain death as clinical death or not appears to depend on one's view of the mind-body relationship. Pediatric nurses are involved in this controversy because of the care they provide to both the affected child and family in this troubling time.