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Blurring The Line Between Life And Death

Mar 19, 2012 (Fresh Air)

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Doctors perform a kidney transplant operation in Spain in 2010.

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Dick Teresi wanted to write about how science determines the point between life and death. After a decade of research, Teresi says he still doesn't know what death is, but that the breadth of his ignorance has been widely expanded. Teresi's findings have been published in his new book, The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers — How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death.

An excerpt from the book questioning the practices of organ donation and how the medical community determines brain death was published in The Wall Street Journal and has created a lot of controversy in the medical community.

On Monday's Fresh Air, Teresi talks about his findings. In addition, Richard M. Freeman, the chief of surgery and a veteran transplant surgeon at Dartmouth Medical School, discusses the ethics of transplant surgery and what physicians think about the point between life and death.

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