Beating Heart Corpses( Note: This was taken DIRECTLY from…

Beating Heart Corpses

( Note: This was taken DIRECTLY from This article is in NO WAY mine or, nor was it written for this blog. I thought it was interesting so I copied and pasted bits from the article. Go to the link above to read the full thing. )

Article written by Zaria Gorvett for the BBC

“Their hearts are still beating. They urinate. Their bodies don’t
decompose and they are warm to the touch; their stomachs rumble, their
wounds heal and their guts can digest food. They can have heart attacks,
catch a fever and suffer from bedsores. They can blush and sweat – they
can even have babies.

And yet, according to most legal
definitions and the vast majority of doctors these patients are
thoroughly, indisputably deceased.

These are the beating heart
cadavers; brain-dead corpses with functioning organs and a pulse. Their
medical costs are astronomical (up to $217,784
for just a few weeks), but with a bit of luck and a lot of help, today
it’s possible for the body to survive for months – or in rare cases,
decades – even though it’s technically dead. How is this possible? Why
does this happen? And how do doctors know they’re really dead?…”

These beating heart cadavers should not be confused with other kinds of
unconscious patients, such as those in a coma. Though they aren’t able
to sit up and respond to the sound of their name, they still show brain
activity, undergoing cycles of sleep and (unresponsive) wakefulness. A
patient in a coma has the potential to make a full recovery.

A persistent vegetative state is decidedly more serious – in these
patients the higher brain is permanently, irretrievably damaged – but
though they will never have another conscious thought, again, they are
not dead.

To qualify as a beating heart cadaver, the entire brain
must be dead. This includes the “brain stem”, the primitive,
tube-shaped mass at the bottom of the brain which controls critical
bodily functions, such as breathing. But, somewhat disconcertingly, our
other organs aren’t as troubled by the death of their HQ as you’d think.

Alan Shewmon, a neurologist from UCLA and outspoken critic of the brain death definition, identified 175 cases
where people’s bodies survived for more than a week after the person
had died. In some cases, their hearts kept beating and their organs kept
functioning for a further 14 years – for one cadaver, this strange
afterlife lasted two decades.

How is this possible?

In fact,
biologically speaking, there has never been a single moment of death;
each passing is really a series of mini-deaths, with different tissues
dropping off at different rates. “Choosing a definition of death is
essentially a religious or philosophical question,” says Veatch”

(To read the full article go to


%d bloggers like this: