The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers : how Medicine is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death

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Pantheon Books, 2012 - Medical - 350 pages

Important and provocative, The Undead examines why even with the tools of advanced technology, what we think of as life and death, consciousness and nonconsciousness, is not exactly clear and how this problem has been further complicated by the business of organ harvesting.

Dick Teresi, a science writer with a dark sense of humor, manages to make this story entertaining, informative, and accessible as he shows how death determination has become more complicated than ever. Teresi introduces us to brain-death experts, hospice workers, undertakers, coma specialists and those who have recovered from coma, organ transplant surgeons and organ procurers, anesthesiologists who study pain in legally dead patients, doctors who have saved living patients from organ harvests, nurses who care for beating-heart cadavers, ICU doctors who feel subtly pressured to declare patients dead rather than save them, and many others. Much of what they have to say is shocking. Teresi also provides a brief history of how death has been determined from the times of the ancient Egyptians and the Incas through the twenty-first century. And he draws on the writings and theories of celebrated scientists, doctors, and researchers--Jacques-B nigne Winslow, Sherwin Nuland, Harvey Cushing, and Lynn Margulis, among others--to reveal how theories about dying and death have changed. With The Undead, Teresi makes us think twice about how the medical community decides when someone is dead.


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User Review  - Daumari -

Decided to take one of my large-pile-o-library-books with me on this trip, and finished it in a couple days. Dick Teresi takes a look at brain death and how it's not as clearly defined as you might ... Read full review

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User Review  - cookierooks - LibraryThing

Bias and incorrect information all over. Snark is only funny if you can back it with facts, and the author plays fast and loose with those. He reminds us of his status as a science writer but he ... Read full review


Death Is Here to Stay
A History of Death
The BrainDeath Revolution
The New Undead
The NearDeath Experience
Postmodern Death
The Moment of Death and the Search for Self
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About the author (2012)

Dick Teresi is the coauthor of The God Particle and the author of Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science, both selected as New York Times Book Review Notable Books. He has been the editor in chief of Science Digest, Longevity, VQ, and Omni, and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic, among other publications.

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