I would not have hesitated to call a vegetative person dead, two weeks ago.
I thought the brain was what keeps the heart and lungs working, and that if the brain stops sending signals then the other two won't work anymore even if we hook them up to a machine.
This little girl has been breathing and has her heart beating for more than four years after being declared dead.
I love that the article mentioned the brain dead definition is usually decided on by intellectuals who would see themselves as dead when they are no longer able to use their intellect to converse and interact with the world.
It's an attitude that ignores a passively "hanging out" family member who might just want to hear what's going on, even if they can't interact back. It's like someone quiet at your table: if they are not talking, does that mean they aren't part of the party?
I was so confident in my answer until two weeks ago, when my mother had a stroke. I used to think death is this perfectly precise fine line that divides 1 from 0, until my loved ones fell into that band and didn't come out of either side. She lived in that land where by some definition she's one but by some she's another.
I hope she experiences a healing miracle. It would turn our world completely upside-down, but it would help us talk about dignity of life beyond terms like if someone can contribute to commerce, offer fresh organs, or intelligence defines life.