Be Reasonable: Episode #035 – Paul Byrne

Joining me today is Dr Paul Byrne. Paul is a paediatrician and prominent campaigner against organ donation, who has consistently written rejecting the existence of brain death.

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  1. #1 by VinnyB on January 29, 2016 - 21:34

    The poor connect frustrated me initially, but once it cleared up I realized how much more tolerable it made the conversation. Maybe you could go back and garble out a couple dozen more of his main repeated phrases…

    It seemed like you gave him more rambling time than you give most. Is there anything else you would have asked him in retrospect, or is an ability to understand abstraction a prerequisite to even having a meaningful discussion?

  2. #2 by Kitty on January 30, 2016 - 03:01

    Oh wow, another doozy, Marsh! It’s like you to have ONE question answered… over & over again. It was also telling that his research and reading is from the ’60s and ’70s; and I’m going to jump out on a limb and postulate that *Stage Whispers* he’s a Christian… *ducks*. Oh, there we go… “Ask God to bless you.”

    I wonder if you were able to ask him how old he thought the Earth was? But seriously, he thinks organ donation is done for $$$ ????? WTF And doesn’t understand that instrumentation is used to keep the blood pumping (THOUGH THE HEART…) to enable to keep the organs *VIABLE*

    Again, Marsh, for not hanging up after 5 mins, (& to me for listening ALL the way through this time ) A Huge CONGRATULATIONS !!!!
    Kitty, Melbourne, Australia

  3. #3 by mark on February 1, 2016 - 13:17

    His whole argument seems to revolve around 2 main points.
    1) How we define death. Reading between the lines, his definition of death is when the soul has left the body. Which can only be declaired when all biological function has ceased.
    2) That on some occasions Brain dethroned has been declared and someone has recovered.

    So in my layman opinion his whole argument is that an unproven part of a human must have left the body before death can be declaired, and a few rare cases of recovery after declaration of Brain death proves this. The rest of the reasoning is just to justify why the medical profession might want to declair brain death, for financial gain.
    Of course there would be no financial gain in keeping the body alive, especially in the US, where they have a national health system (sarcasm )

  4. #4 by Rob on February 2, 2016 - 15:33

    If organs are useless within 4 minutes of death then someone needs to inform all of the doctors that transfer organs on ice for transplant asap…

  5. #5 by Mike Ellis on February 3, 2016 - 03:06

    I … do not want to be rude but I really think senility is a factor here.

    “What if you could reliably measure whether there was any hope of brain recovery or not?”
    (starts to answer, doesn’t get there, cycles through every one of his talking points again)

    “Why would doctors care how big the organ donation industry is when treating a patient if they have no personal financial stake in harvesting an organ?”
    (starts to answer, doesn’t get there, cycles through every one of his talking points again)

  6. #6 by Bill on February 3, 2016 - 11:33

    Really interesting discussion which could be so damaging to families of donors. He said some true things, but also some factually very incorrect things. A heart can function without a brain. A perfused oxygenated heart will beat spontaneously and, I guess, that’s how we should look at a donor heart still in situ. There is a world of difference between coma and brain stem death…….indeed I remember many years ago in a different life struggling like mad to maintain the core temperature of a potential donor so that they could be tested for brain stem death…of course death of the brain stem prevents temperature regulation as well as other functions. He does make an interesting point that, as soon as you take these patients off the ventilator, their condition will deteriorate which, if they were ever going to recover, would be highly disadvantageous to them, but these patients were never ever going to recover. It doesn’t do any harm to ask the questions surrounding brain death, but the answers are conclusive, it is irreversible and the essence of these patients have died.

  7. #7 by Jay on February 3, 2016 - 15:06

    Right after listening to this episode today, my friend coincidentally posted this:
    This device can bring dead hearts back to life. Amazing.

  8. #8 by Malcolm on February 4, 2016 - 07:18

    Oh my goodness. That was the most painful thing I have ever listened to; the evasions, repeatition, appeals to emotions, refusal to answer hypothetical questions.

    There is only one issue at stake. Can an individual’s personality exist after their brain ceases to function.

    He wouldn’t answer it.

  9. #9 by Pdubyah on February 6, 2016 - 21:39

    A difficult interview, which I distilled down to his assertion that if there is blood circulation there is life, and early on he also asserted that the heart was an independent organ, with its own “mini brain” . Therefore there is no possible circumstance where organ transplant is possible whilst the heart beats. Despite any evidence of persistent vegetative state, or no brain activity, because evidence of no activity os not evidence of no activity, I think.

  10. #10 by Ben on February 12, 2016 - 07:05

    I found a simple google search for “history of brain death” provided some extremely useful reading on the topic and some debunking of concepts presented in the podcast.

    Interesting stuff. Thanks.

  11. #11 by Jeanine on February 15, 2016 - 14:13

    The organ donations for money argument does not hold up. In the US, hospitals would make much more money by keeping someone eternally on life support systems, than having their physicians do a one time organ donation with no guarantee if the harvested organ will be transplanted at their facility.

  12. #12 by Pat Lowe on March 4, 2016 - 02:33

    The man was obviously elderly and not a good speaker, but he made valid points. The definition of ‘brain death’ WAS introduced in order for living organs to be ‘harvested’. And I have known two people who recovered after being declared brain dead. One was an elderly woman after a car accident, whose organs were not requested. She went home and died later from natural causes. The other was a young man whose organs were requested. Fortunately for him, no decision was made for a few days and he woke up and, he told me, his first words were, ‘I’m hungry.’ He’s still alive and well, brain functioning normally.

  13. #13 by Pat Lowe on March 4, 2016 - 02:39

    The diagnosis of ‘irreversible brain death’ is, like every diagnosis, sometimes wrong. And, while there are advocates in hospitals who try hard to persuade families to donate organs, no one is advocating for the potential donor.

  14. #14 by Kathy Heyne on October 29, 2016 - 22:57

    Reminded me of an old Robin Cook novel: “Somebody’s putting people into comas!”

  15. #15 by Kathy Heyne on October 29, 2016 - 23:08

    Baby Joseph died at 20 months old. I thought Dr Byrne said baby Joseph survived to adulthood and now has children of his own but I may have misheard- the phone line he was on was pretty bad at times. Dr Byrne is a Catholic and pro-life advocate.

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