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Name: Mary
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Question:
How does a machine bring you back to life?



Replies:
Mary, Thanks for your question. There is a lot of argument as to what exactly defines life, and there are also some disagreements as to what defines death. It appears death can be defined as lack of brain activity. No machine is able to bring you back to life after brain activity has ceased. The machines you may be referring to include machines to electrically stimulate the heart into again having a normal sequence of electrical impulses necessary for sustained normal function. Heart/lung machines serve as temporary substitutes for those organs during operations or preceding transplants. These maintain the normal mechanical functions of those organs; for example, pumping blood or bringing air into the lungs.

As I mentioned above, these machines act as 'life-support' systems. They cannot create life or return life to a dead individual with the lack of brain activity. If a heart stops, there is a period where the heart can be stimulated into beating again. If this is not accomplished within a very few minutes, brain death begins to occur and then what we call 'death' quickly follows.

Ric



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