Reversing Death?

When “Death Takes a Holiday” as it did in the 1934 comedy-drama, no one could die. People in hospitals, those who were shot or hurt, and many others hovered in the area between death and life. Although the movie is a love story, one comes away with the idea that death is necessary. Now, decades later, when is death necessary and for whom, is being challenged. Dr Sam Parnia, critical care physician at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York, is leading a revival of research in bringing clinically dead people back to life. Actually very few can as yet be brought back to life and then within 24 hours of their cardiac arrest, but Dr. Parnia hopes to extend this. To him the death of someone like actor James Gandolfini could have been among those which could have been reversed. It may be too early to say the dead can be revived, but Parnia’s work and research nevertheless point out the implications and issues we must individually and as a society begin to wrestle with. Who is to be revived? Would someone who is 99 year old and frail who dies from cardiac arrest qualify? What about the cost? Are insurance to cover resuscitation measures? What about the DNR measures and the living will we all ought to have in place? Would we want to thus be resuscitated, as a matter of course or only under certain circumstances?