Q: Ok fine, but there's no difference anyway. They're all the same!
A: Again, not a question. You're not even trying, are you? Anyway, no NO NO! They are NOT the same thing, not remotely. A coma is an unconscious or semiconscious state, while a persistent vegetative state is a prolonged coma, often due to permanent brain injury. There are countless reports of coma patients waking up, and reports of people in a persistent vegetative state getting better to varying degrees. This is because with comas and PVS, the brain is still alive. But with brain death, the brain has been deprived of oxygen and has died. In the entire history of humankind, no person who was actually brain-dead has ever woken up.
Q: Well what if you're wrong? Aren't doctors wrong all the time?
A: All the time? No. Occasionally? Yes.
Q: Well doesn't that prove that you could be wrong here?
A: No. At least 6 physicians have done a thorough examination, all of which were conclusive for brain death.
Q: But you just said doctors make mistakes! What if they all made one?
A: She's also had two electroencephalograms (EEGs) which have shown no electrical activity in the brain. Live brains have electrical activity. She also had a radionuclide brain scan which showed no blood flow to her brain. Brain tissue is extraordinarily sensitive to lack of oxygen, so no blood flow means a dead brain. A computer could read a flat EEG and a blank brain flow scan. Then again, so could a 5-year old.
Q: But couldn't you still be wrong?
Q: But there are all those stories about brain-dead people waking up! What about Zach Dunlap and Colleen Burns and Sam Schmid and Suzanne Chin and...?
A: I don't have access to their medical records, but clearly none of them were ever actually brain dead. Perhaps their families were told they were brain dead by mistake. Perhaps the families were told they had a "severe brain injury" and their families heard "brain dead" instead. Perhaps the doctors made a mistake in their examination and subsequent diagnosis. Regardless, because of all the reasons I stated above, it is 100% impossible for someone who is brain dead to wake up.
Q: But what about miracles?
A: You may believe in miracles all you want, but I will NOT get dragged into a theological debate. Beliefs are funny things. Personally I believe that all of you will eventually come to your senses and finally understand the science here, but that doesn't mean you will.
Q: What harm could all this really be doing? Why are you so opposed to giving her a chance?
A: Quite simply, this is setting a dangerous precedent that will make some people think it's ok to keep a dead body on machines. I also fear that it will prevent some people from deciding to become organ donors, which is the most noble sacrifice anyone could possibly make.
Q: But her heart is still beating! Her body is warm! And her kidneys are making urine! Are you telling me that dead people have beating hearts? Should we make caskets waterproof to protect the ground from all the urine the dead people make?
A: Clearly you don't understand basic human anatomy and physiology. The heart, kidneys, and lungs do not require a brain to function. If I hooked a human kidney up to an oxygenated blood flow, it would produce urine, no brain (or batteries) required. Same thing goes for the lungs, heart, and all the other cellular mechanisms. Because Jahi's body is hooked up to a ventilator, it pumps oxygenated air into her lungs. Her lungs, also requiring no brain input to exchange gases, continue to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide, and her cells which are receiving blood flow (remember, her brain is NOT getting blood flow) will continue to function. So her body will stay warm, her heart will still beat, and her kidneys will still make urine.
Q: So doesn't that mean she's alive? Isn't brain death not true death?
A: No. There are two definitions of death - cardiac death (heart stops, all other cells then die) and brain death (brain dies). Both mean the same thing - the patient is dead. One is not "more dead" than the other. Jahi is no less dead just because she has a beating heart. She has no functional brain. Just like anyone who thinks brain dead people can wake up.
Q: Well aren't you an arrogant ass.
A: Yes. Any other questions?