My father died on October 26, 1999, after falling down eight steps. That’s where some stories end. It’s where this one begins. Dad was an organ donor. And when you’re an organ donor in today’s world, where miracle machines can sustain the mechanical functions of the body, you don’t die in a conventional sense. You don’t stop breathing. Your heart doesn’t stop beating. You don’t turn cold. Rigor mortis doesn’t set in. You’re dead, but every organ continues to function normally. Well, except one. Your brain. It’s called brain death, and it’s especially confusing to grieving families because it looks a lot like life. Consider: As my family gathered at my father’s bedside to say our last goodbyes, machines beeped and whirred behind him. One showed that his blood pressure was 146/100 and his pulse 98. Another reported that he was breathing 20 times per minute. His face was flushed. His skin was warm. Five minutes before, he was alive, technically. Then two doctors came by and declared him dead, technically. But nothing seemed to have changed, really. Time of “death” was 1:26 p.m. Dad was only 59. Two days before, he’d met my future in-laws for the first time. They talked of… Read full this story
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