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Discovery and Disquiet: Research on the Brain-Dead

John La Puma, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Requests for Reprints: John La Puma, MD, Section of Clinical Ethics, Lutheran General Hospital, 1775 Dempster Street, Park Ridge, IL 60068.


Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, Illinois


Ann Intern Med. 1988;109(8):606-608. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-109-8-606
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In 1974 Willard Gaylin suggested that "neomorts would be particularly valuable for studying diseases of the blood" (1). Using brain-dead humans for experimentation, medical training, organ banking, and immunologic manufacturing was considered futuristic.

That future is now. In this issue, Coller and colleagues report using a 78-year-old brain-dead man's circulatory and hematologic systems to evaluate a monoclonal antibody's effect on platelet aggregation (2). The authors suggest several "principles" for investigators who wish to use brain-dead patients for research. These suggestions include the investigators' nonparticipation in the determination of death, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) review, and the consent of the

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