Readers React: Brain death: It’s final

To the editor: Having had a sister in a vegetative coma, I believe that observation is the best tool to diagnose brain death. The effects of going without air for more than 15 minutes after choking on food cannot be reversed. (“What constitutes brain death? Depends on which hospital you’re in, study finds,” Dec. 28)

My sister was in bed with no eye movement or reflexes, hands curled into a fetal position. The only sign of life was a blood trickle from a tracheotomy that was soon repaired. I sat by her bedside for 12 days as a ventilator pumped. When she was weaned from the ventilator, I know they only taught her to breathe.

Three days after I left because I needed to return to work, she died.

Even if a person is revived from such a coma, one must think of the damage done. The person is never to eat, talk, walk or maybe even recognize someone again. Professional care is going to be required.


Whatever the outcome, there will never be a return to normal.

Judy Mason, West Covina

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