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The Space Between Death and Donation

What Happens When the Brain Goes Quiet but the Heart Continues Beating?

“The Space Between Death and Donation” illustration for The New York Times

The headlines might make you think that Anne Heche died twice. First on a Friday, when the actress was declared brain-dead. And then again on a Sunday, when her body was disconnected from machines so that her organs could be donated.

It would be easy to assume that these headlines are unique to this event, the fault of imprecise language or constraints around the timing of obituaries. But they actually reveal a much deeper and pervasive lack of understanding about what happens in that liminal space between the declaration of brain death and when a heart stops beating…

full piece here