Legal definition of death unclear, expert says

Updated: 2014-05-08 07:10

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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Cong Bin, a forensic medicine expert in Hebei province, said brain death cannot be identified as real death under current Chinese laws, referring to the case in which the family of a young man who was pronounced brain-dead donated his heart to a boy with heart failure.

"Although there is so far no legal definition of death, we usually think a person is dead when he or she has no breath and no heartbeat," he said.

Under these terms, the young donor in the case was still alive in accordance with the current laws when his heart was donated, according to Cong.

Whether brain death can be taken as real death is still under discussion among medical and judicial experts, "so it's early and not accurate to say that the boy had died at present", he said.

The key to reducing such controversy is legislation, "which is why I am always calling on lawmakers to make a clear definition of death as soon as possible, otherwise similar confusion will arise and bring more trouble", he added.