Life extension now [was Re: Medical technology]

Michael Veltman george at
Sun May 31 19:59:39 EST 1992

In article <192 at sftwks.UUCP> bradbury at sftwks.UUCP (Robert Bradbury) writes:
>In article <9205292307.AA24462 at> GMP at PSUVM.PSU.EDU writes:
>you need to address the issue within the medical community of, "When and
>how may physicians properly assist in the process of dying?".  Comfortable
>transitions to a state of death probably require the assistance of a doctor.
>We came close to allowing "planned death" here in Washington in the last
>election, people who view the current situation as an abomination need to
>continue these efforts on a state by state basis if necessary.

A difficult question... Actually I think your average Vet would know more
about comfortable transitions.  Serious comment, but I'll probably be 
flamed for it anyway.

>>How many people on respirators ever get weaned off?
>>Does a CABG really prolong life?  If so, what is the evidence?
>>Are anti-depressive drugs really anti-depressive or are they vegetable makers?
>>How do you know for sure a person is brain dead?
>People in are better qualified to answer questions about these
>than I am, can the doctors comment?  It is true that at the point when
>large amounts of "technological intervention" are required to keep you
>alive you are living on borrowed time.  At that point I would strongly
>urge one to start considering cryonics.  You have nothing to lose if
>it doesn't work and might have another life to gain if it does work.

1. How many people on respirators get weaned off?

Depends on the group you define.  In terms of routine anaesthetics for
surgery, almost everyone.

In terms of post arrest, of a non cardiac orign, I think about 5% get
out of hospital, although many more than that make it off the respirator.

In terms of anything else, the chance is somewhere between these two.

2. Does a CABG really prolong life.

Yes, certainly in the right people.  Severe disease (Left main or three
vessel coronary artery disease sufferers do better to my understanding)

3. Are anti-depressives antidepressives or vegetable makers.

If you want to see a vegtable, see a seriously depressed person on no
treatment.  Honestly, I provide anaesthesia for ECT services and the
people are _SERIOUSLY_ depressed when they start, and some of them
are better within a week.

4. How do you know if a person is brain dead?

That is a hard question, and the problems start with what you define as
brain dead (although they dont end with a good definiton). 

Criteria include loss of any response to painful stimulii, fixed unresponsive
pupils, absent reflexes (corneal, lash, "doll's eye", gag, carinal) and loss
of spontaneous breathing.  

Usually it requires more than one doctor to make the diagnosis, bearing in
mind the cause of coma and ruling out any reversible causes (eg., low body
tempreture, anaesthesia).

A flat EEG is confiratory but not always necessary.

For more detailed information on brain death I would suggest you talk
with someone more knowledgeable than me.



Michael Veltman          |  george at        | email direct, save                             |                              | some bandwidth

"At a cardiac arrest, the first step is to take your own pulse"     Samuel Shem      - The House of GOD -

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