The Continuing Struggle with the Acceptance of Brain Death

On November 20, 2012 in Puerto Rico, famed boxer Hector Camacho was shot in the head in a drive by shooting while traveling with a friend. The bullet penetrated his jaw, fractured two vertebrae and severed his carotid artery restricting blood flow to his brain; he also suffered a cardiac arrest during the first few hours of his hospitalization. The next day he was declared brain dead by the physicians present effectively ending all hope that he could make a full recovery. The doctors then recommended that he be taken off of life support, a recommendation that his mother endorsed. Camacho died on November 24, 2012 and was laid to rest in New York City on December 1.

However, not everyone in Hector’s family was supportive of the decision to remove him from life support. Hector’s eldest son, Hector Jr., opposed his grandmother’s decision to remove his father from life support stating that “He is going to fight until the end. My father is a boxer.” Other relatives as well as friends of Camacho were also unsure of whether or not to remove Camacho from life support. One friend and fellow professional boxer Victor Callejas remarked that “If there is still hope and faith, why not wait a little more?”
The death of Camacho and the dispute over whether or not to end life support for him shows that despite what scientific evidence tell us, despite what professional doctors know and despite what we have learned throughout the semester in this Death and Burial Class, there is always going to be a debate over life support and whether or not brain death is truly the end. Even though we know about brain death and the fact that a person cannot recover if the brain is dead, we should not be so quick to look down on people who doubt the evidence of brain death with contempt. It is understandable why these people might be hesitant to pull the plug on a loved one. For almost everyone, losing a loved one is one of the most traumatizing experiences they can go through; furthermore, losing a loved one who still looks able to potentially function and recover is even more traumatizing. Even though we should raise awareness of brain death, due to the fact that people are reacting normally to the state of their loved ones, we shouldn’t blame people for being hesitant to pull the plug on a brain dead relative.

Because of this, every person in this class should make it their goal to help raise awareness of brain death is some way shape of form. By doing this, we can at least help make sure that people are more understanding of brain death and what it means for their loved ones

Nick Tigges

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