Initially, many objected to the whole-brain formulation because they saw it to be a change in our fundamental understanding of the human being, and a dramatic change from the essentially cardiac-centered concept and criterion for determining death (the traditional cardio-pulmonary criteria, which required the final stoppage of the heart). Several have called for a return to the use of the traditional criteria, consistent with an understanding of death as the irreversible loss of the integrative functioning of the organism as a whole. The claim has been that whether mechanically or spontaneously sustained, a beating heart signifies the ongoing integrated functioning of the organism as a whole, whether or not the patient is brain-dead. On this view, death has not occurred until the heart and lungs have irreversibly ceased to function. Some religious traditions adhere steadfastly to this concept of death, and consider the brain-death criterion an unacceptable basis on which to declare death.
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