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The Moment of Death.

John O. Burris, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1970;126(6):1078. doi:10.1001/archinte.1970.00310120140027.
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The Moment of Death is a collection of communications presented at a symposium in Nutley, NJ in September 1968. The contributors are all well known physicians with the exception of a lawyer, Arthur J. Sills, attorney general of New Jersey. The discussion was prompted by heart transplantation which created public excitement and intensive press interest at the time.

The participants acknowledge that The Moment of Death is a misconception, that death is a transition between the living and nonliving state and, as such, occurs over a period of time depending upon gradual cessation of function of the different organ and cellular systems.

The question is, What is life? Clearly, the mere maintenance of metabolic equilibrium, which might suffice to describe life for a tree or shrub, does not suffice as a definition of human life, particularly if external artificial support is necessary to maintain the tenuous balance without hope of


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