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Table 1 Responses to the question on conceptual reasons to explain why brain death is equivalent to death

From: A survey of American neurologists about brain death: understanding the conceptual basis and diagnostic tests for brain death

Conceptual reason Neurologist responses (n = 192) 95% Confidence interval
Higher brain concept 93 (48%) 41-55%
   Irreversible loss of consciousness 82 (43%) 36-50%
   Irreversible loss of the soul or "essence" of humans 39 (20%) 15-27%
   Irreversible loss of "personhood" 43 (22%) 17-29%
Irreversible loss of the integration of body functions by the brain 52 (27%) 21-34%
Prognosis concept 59 (31%) 25-38%
   The certainty of cardiac arrest within hours or days 14 (7%) 4-12%
   Further care is futile and/or degrading 53 (28%) 22-34%
Restatement of loss of brain function (the criterion) 169 (88%) 83-92%
   Irreversible loss of the function of the entire brain/brainstem 140 (73%) 66-79%
   Irreversible loss of the critical functions of the entire brain/brainstem 105 (55%) 48-62%
   Irreversible destruction of the brain, including the brainstem 109 (57%) 50-64%
Irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness plus irreversible loss of the capacity to breathe 83 (43%) 36-50%
Cessation of the vital work of the organism 22 (12%) 8-17%
  1. The exact question asked was as follows: "Which of the following is/are an acceptable conceptual reason to explain why 'brain death' is equivalent to 'death'?." Respondents could choose more than one answer; each answer had to be "a stand-alone reason." The standard medical, ethical, and legal conceptual reason is: the irreversible loss of the integration of body functions by the brain [14, 10, 11].