Today's Salt Lake Tribune
has a story
about Jesse Koochin, who was transferred from the hospital to home hospice at the end of last week. The parents report that he is moving his feet and are encouraged by their ability to feel his pulse and to see that his cheek is pink and warm to the touch. All of this, of course, is consistent with a determination of death according to neurological criteria. As long as his body remains hooked up to a ventilator, his heart will continue to beat, at least until his blood chemistry gets so messed up that he can't generate a pulse on his own. (Reports that putrefaction has begun is evidence that this process is well under way.) As for his feet moving, there may be some random muscle movement or even spinal-cord reflexes at work, but a definitive diagnosis of "brain death" is a diagnosis of death. Unfortunately for this family, which seems to so profoundly distrust the medical experts, Jesse is not going to recover, and their efforts to try to get him to recover are sad, grotesque, and doomed.