Thanatology: Determination of Death

As modern medical technology has made the definition and determination of death increasingly complex, the transplant era has made both problems increasingly urgent. Virtually every physician and surgeon in the world wants to have his say. When the World Medical Association met in Sydney last week, 212 members from 28 nations debated the issues. They eventually adopted a tentative guideline document, the Declaration of Sydney, subject to detailed reconsideration next year. Simultaneously, a committee of 13 top-ranking Harvard professors proclaimed their code in the Journal of the A.M.A.

The documents were...