The Harvard’s Brain Death Criteria as a Basis for the Withdrawal of Life Support Machines: A Response from Islamic Law
Keywords:Response of Islamic Law, Harvard Brain Death Criteria, Withdrawal of Life Support Machines, denial of medical treatment
Patients in coma or vegetative state are usually dependent on life support machines or system, until they either recover or pass away. However, the story is no longer the same today, as patients thought to be in coma or vegetative state are usually disconnected from such machines, in order to save cost. Apart from disconnecting them from the machine, they are equally denied food and drink, being basic necessities of life. This is resorted to in order to quicken the pace of death. Health officials have always relied on the Harvard’s brain death criteria as the basis for their actions. Research has however shown that the said brain death criterion is not reliable after all. Thus, this article examines the justifiability of the brain death criteria as the basis for the withdrawal of life support machines. In doing so, the article provides the Islamic view point on the issue. It will at the end, show that, indeed the brain death criterion is faulty and should never be the basis for the withdrawal of a patient’s life support machine, denied food and drink and denial of medical treatment.
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