Brain and Clinical deaths are terms used together only in clinical settings. Outside of medical facilities, an individual can be pronounced dead when the person has ceased from breathing and the pulses are no longer palpable.
Two necessary criteria for life sustenance are blood circulation and breathing. Life ceases when they are no longer available. A state when the heart stop beating, when breathing ceases and when blood stop circulating is called Clinical death. This is point when the individual is experiencing cardiopulmonary arrest.
Clinical death is not permanent. In lay terms, it is called ‘Our Window of Survival’. Given prompt and adequate medical attention, the individual can still be revived. However, the chance of survival reduces for the individual if clinical death or cardiopulmonary arrest happens outside of medical facility.
It is important for caregivers to know about brain (biological) death as well. The brain does not cease to function immediately after ‘clinical death.’ After the heart have ceased to pump blood to vital organs of the body, the brain doesn’t just quit. It continues to function for the next 4 to 6 minutes. .
The brain’s activities undergo a gradual deterioration. Not until there’s an irreversible damage, the Doctor may not declare a person legally dead. Therefore, Brain death is the cessation of vital organs in the body including the heart (which must have has stopped pumping) and the brain (after sustaining permanent neurological damage).
As a matter of legality, the clinician/Doctor cannot pronounce a person dead until the person is brain dead. Diagnosis of brain death involves 3 critical conclusions: Comatose state, absence of brainstem reflexes, and apnea test.
When clinical death occurs, the person can still be revived or maintained on life support. People are placed on life support for so many reasons. Advance directives require caregivers to preserve the individual’s wishes. If the individual is not ‘brain dead’, advance directives will be honored, and the person will be placed on life support.
Another reason why an individual will be placed on life support is to be able to harvest the person’s organs. Most organs can still be harvested after clinical death if the person is placed on life support. In the United States, organs are not harvested except the individual has identify as an organ donor before death or if the family or ‘power of attorney’ gives consent after the person’s death.