Traditionally death was declared
only when the heart stopped beating. Today the patient
can be declared dead by measuring brain stem functions.
Brain stem is a part of the central nervous system,
which if irreparably damaged, the patient stops breathing,
other functions can no longer continue independently
and the individual is dead. The heart may continue
to function on ventilator and other support for a
maximum up to 36-72 hours. This is the phase of brain
Brain death is declared by the brain
death committee, which involves a team of four doctors
who are not involved in the transplant team. This
declaration is legal. This team has to perform the
tests twice at a minimum gap of 6 hours so as to confirm
the findings. This can only be done in institutions
recognized for transplantations by the government.
It is during this period that organs can be retrieved
for transplantation after proper consent.