Nampa girl's condition raises questions

jsowell@idahostatesman.comJuly 13, 2013 

Death's definitions:

Brain death is the permanent loss of brain function and means the person had died, according to the American Academy of Neurology. The diagnosis is made only after a comprehensive evaluation that can involve more than 25 separate assessments.

Tragic death:

Four-year-old Alyson Defur was declared brain dead Wednesday after a CT scan at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital on Wednesday. Alyson suffered serious brain injuries in a Sunday night auto crash in Nampa. Her family is looking to donate her organs, according to a Facebook posting.

What about life signs?

A ventilator can keep the heart beating, lungs breathing and blood flowing to organs and tissues after a patient has been declared brain dead. Meanwhile, the body may still be warm to the touch and there may still be color in the face. However, the patient is considered already dead, according to the National Kidney Foundation, which seeks organ donations from families of those declared brain dead. The time of death listed on a death certificate is the time of brain death, the foundation says in an organ donation pamphlet.

Holding out hope:

While Alyson’s family waits for medicines to filter out of her system so they can donate her organs, they’re continuing to pray for her recovery and post updates on her CaringBridge page. While rare, there are incidents where patients declared “brain dead” have recovered, including a teen in the U.K. in 2012.

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