Brain dead means not dead. Further, these real life examples of people who have recovered after being pronounced "brain dead" shows that doctors and hospitals are sometimes dead wrong.
[Welcome to readers sent here in 2017 from American Right To Life's homepage.]
This chronological list is ordered by the most recent report we have for each case:
- August 2016 - 22-year-old Sam Hemming was moments from death when doctors, assuming that she was brain dead and "with no hope of recovery" were corrected by Sam wiggling her toe. From there, fighting back, she has made a tremendous recovery in only weeks.
- May 2015 - In Des Moines, Iowa as reported by USA Today, "Taylor's brain sank part way into her spinal canal. No one comes back from that, the doctors told Taylor's mother, Stacy, and her father, Chuck Hale. Nothing more could be done. Their daughter was brain dead. It was time to make arrangements to take her off life support and discuss organ donation. ... Taylor Hale, considered brain dead by science, awoke from her coma. ... " So the staff doctors will harvest organs, cut out the eyes, etc., of living children at the Des Moines Blank Children's Hospital, hereafter known as Blankity Blank Hospital. See also this, this, this, this, and this.
- January 2015 - George Pickering, a 27-year old Texan, was pronounced brain dead by doctors at the Tomball Regional Medical Center when his father threatened to shoot himself if anyone disconnected his son from life support. During the standoff with police, the son repeatedly squeezed his father's hand, and then woke up later that evening, has made a strong recovery, and in April was baptized after converting to Christianity.
- March 2014 - A Mississippi man wasn't pronounced "brain" dead, but dead dead, and zippered into a sack, and shipped to the morgue, where he freaked out the workers by kicking his way out of the body bag just as they were ready to embalm him. Shesh. If multiple nurses and a coroner could get death so very wrong, one would hope that the medical industry could have more humility before God regarding patients who are noticably breathing.
- July 2013 - A New York woman who was pronounced ‘brain dead’ by doctors unexpectedly awoke just as her organs were about to be removed for transplant.
- October 2012 - A documentary titled “Pigen der ikke ville dø” (“The girl who refused to die”), aired on Danish TV, telling the story of 19-year-old Carina Melchior, who awoke after doctors declared her "brain dead" and had approached the family about considering donating her organs.
- April 2012 - Doctors declared british teen Stephen Thorpe "brain dead," telling the father that the boy would never recover from a serious car accident. Despite pressure from the doctors, the father would not consent to allow the boy’s organs to be donated. With the help of other doctors, five weeks later Thorpe left the hospital, having almost completely recovered.
- July 2011 - Madeleine Gauron, a Quebec woman — identified as viable for organ donation after doctors diagnosed her as "brain dead" — surprised her family and physicians when she recovered from a coma, opened her eyes, and began eating.
- May 2011 - An Australian woman declared “brain dead” regained consciousness after family fought for weeks doctor recommendations that her ventilator be shut off.
- February 2008 - 65-year-old Raleane Kupferschmidt was taken home to die after relatives were told by doctors that she was "brain dead" from a massive cerebral hemorrhage. The family had already begun to grieve and plan for her funeral when she suddenly awoke and was rushed back to hospital.
- March 2008 - In one particularly chilling case, 21-year-old Zack Dunlap, who was declared "brain dead" following an ATV accident, recounted how he remembers hearing doctors discussing harvesting his organs. Zack showed signs of life only moments before he was scheduled to be wheeled into the operating theater to have his organs removed. One of Zack’s relatives provoked the reaction by digging a pocketknife under his fingernail.
- May 2008 - A Virginia family was shocked but relieved when their mother, Val Thomas, woke up after doctors declared her ‘brain dead’. Doctors had not detected brain waves for more than 17 hours, but kept the woman breathing on a respirator. The family were discussing organ donation options for their mother when she suddenly woke up and started speaking to nurses.
- June 2008 - A Parisian whose organs were about to be removed by doctors after he had "died" of a heart attack, revived on the operating table only minutes before doctors were to begin harvesting his organs.
This important list was initially begun by LifeSiteNews.com, the most trustworthy pro-life news outlet.
* "Brain Dead" Man Recovers, Writes Book: From the Belfast Telegraph...
Jonathan Fisher is a survivor of an Addisonian crisis... His mother ignored medical advice to switch off his life-support system as doctors believed he was brain dead. However, convinced he could recover after noticing that he was reacting to her with the occasional slight movement of his little finger she refused to give up on her son. Now — against all the odds — he has made a remarkable recovery and has regained many of the skills lost as a result of his condition.
* "Vegetable" Recovers, Writes Book: For the story of a man named Martin Pistorius, judged a "vegetable" until he woke up twelve years later, see this January 2015 report on NPR.
* HORROR OF HORRORS: Forget "brain dead", doctors sometimes even get a coma wrong.
* From the Daily Mail by Allan Hall... Man trapped in 23-year 'coma' reveals horror of being unable to tell doctors he was conscious. A car crash victim has spoken of the horror he endured for 23 years after he was misdiagnosed as being in a coma when he was conscious the whole time. Rom Houben, trapped in his paralysed body after a car crash, described his real-life nightmare as he screamed to doctors that he could hear them - but could make no sound. 'I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,' said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegetative state [BE: an inherently dehumanizing term]. Doctors used a range of coma tests before reluctantly concluding that his consciousness was 'extinct'. [T]op neurological expert Dr Steven Laurey... believes there may be many similar cases of false comas around the world...
[Rom] now has a special device above his bed which lets him read books while lying down. Mr Houben said: 'I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me - it was my second birth. I want to read, talk with my friends via the computer and enjoy my life now that people know I am not dead.'
Dr Laureys's new study claims that patients classed as in a vegetative state are often misdiagnosed. 'Anyone who bears the stamp of "unconscious" just one time hardly ever gets rid of it again,' he said. The doctor, who leads the Coma Science Group and Department of Neurology at Liege University Hospital... plans to use the case to highlight what he considers may be similar examples around the world. Dr Laureys said: 'In Germany alone... an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people a year remain trapped in an intermediate stage - they go on living without ever coming back again.' Supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide argue that people who have lain in persistent vegetative states for years should be given the opportunity to have crucial medical support withdrawn because of the 'indignity' of their condition. But there have been several cases in which people judged to be in vegetative states or deep comas have recovered. Twenty years ago, Carrie Coons, an 86-year-old from New York, regained consciousness after a year, took small amounts of food by mouth and engaged in conversation. Only days before her recovery, a judge had granted her family's request for the removal of the feeding tube which had been keeping her alive. ... Read more here.
* Swedish man hears doctors urging the harvesting of his organs: Doctors in Sweden discussed organ donation within earshot of Jimi Fritze as he lay in hospital after a stroke. To the doctor's shocking surprise, Fritze could hear every word they said. However, he couldn't object because he couldn't move. He had suffered a stroke, and after the doctors looked at a scan of his brain, they gave his family bad news, and claimed that "there was no hope," Fritze said. Jimi Fritze said! As reported in Sweden by The Local, a dozen "members of his family came in to say goodbye to him [and] the doctors brought up the question of organ donation, which, as he would later underscore in an official complaint, Swedish doctors are not supposed to do until the patient has been diagnosed as brain dead. Frtize heard every word, but had no way to get the doctors' or his family's attention. It would take three days until he got a second opinion, as another doctor returned from holiday. "She looked at my scans and said 'This doesn't look too bad' and told the staff to give me cortisone to bring down the swelling in my brain," Fritze recalled. "But even so, my girlfriend and my sister had to fight with the night nurse to give me cortisone, and this was just one day before they had said they would make a final 'chance of survival' assessment." While he then improved, it would take another three weeks before he could communicate with his family. more...
Little Dylan Walborn: See also DylanWalborn.com for the four-year-old boy who was not dying, but who was handicapped, who was starved to death over a three-week period at the recommendation of Denver's Children's Hospital as documented by the Denver Post. Of course, if you starved to death a horse, or a dog, you would go to jail.
* Buried Young Honduras Woman: London Telegraph reports in 2015 that a woman thought to be deceased awoke to scream for help in the cemetery from within her coffin.
* And Worse, Way Worse -- Woman Declared Dead Cremated While Still Alive: According to the London Telegraph in 2017, 24-year-old Rachna Sisodia had been declared dead at Sharda hospital in northern India but an autopsy after her partial cremation on a traditional funeral pyre found ash in her respiratory tract. A hospital spokesperson told the Hindustan Times: "This happens when someone is burnt alive. The particles go inside with the breath. If a person is dead, such particles cannot reach the lungs and windpipe. So the doctors concluded that the woman was burnt alive on the pyre."
* 2016 Update: Please check out the Zika-virus relevant case of Ana Carolina Caceres...