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What to keep in mind when reporting on ‘brain death’


Alan Cassels

When reporting on aging, one complicated issue journalists eventually will encounter is “brain death.”

Understanding the nuances of this issue is vital since media reporting shapes public perceptions and so can impact more than 120,000 Americans on waiting lists for a replacement heart, liver or kidney. Nearly two out of three Americans over age 50 are registered to be organ donors, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, but because of insufficient organ donations sometimes caused by the confusion around brain death, those who need a donation may not receive one in time.

Author and researcher Alan Cassels explains some ways to improve reporting on this important issue, including definitions and potential sources.

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