Rabbi Dr. Avraham Steinberg
Diagnostic Tests for Brain-Stem Death
[2 minutes 2 seconds]
In 1986, very fine confirmatory tests of objectivity were somewhat limited, and we used the BERA which is a Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response, meaning a device that checks the flow of electrocurrency from the ear to the brainstem, and if the machine does not detect any waves in the brainstem, it shows that the brainstem is dead and not functioning. This however, when it works is a very good device, a very good confirmatory machine, but there are situations where it cannot work, such as if the person was deaf during his lifetime it is a useless way of checking whether his brainstem is functioning. Also, if it is a road accident and the area of the ear is broken or full of debris then it cannot be applied.
Today, we have other devices which can help us to confirm the fact that brain death is indeed irreversible. Best of these device, currently, is the transcranial doppler which checks for blood flow to the brain, and it is obvious that if, in a period of time, there is no blood flow to the brain because, the brain is dead, it cannot survive without blood flow. In good hands, transcranial doppler can verify over time that there is no blood flow to the brain.