Traditional Cardiopulmonary Criterion of Death is the Only Valid Criterion of Human Death

Peter Volek



In recent time the critique of the whole brain death as the criterion of human death, that was introduced in 1968, has been growing. The paper aims to show in systematically that there are good reasons based on empirical findings combined with Thomistic Christian anthropology to accept the traditional cardiopulmonary criterion as the criterion of human death. This will be shown through a systematic critique of other criteria of death: whole brain death, higher brain death, brain stem death, and controlled cardiac/circulatory death. The traditional cardiopulmonary criterion of death provides the opportunity to maintain the dead donor rule for organ transplantation. This also affirms the respect for human life required by the ethics of the sanctity of human life. The paper further provides a justification of dead donor rule. The paper proposes 35 minutes period after cardiac arrest to declare the patient dead, since at that time there is no possibility to autoresuscitate the heart.


human death; criterion od death; cardiopulmonary criterion of death; whole brain death; higher brain death; dead donor rule

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