Prolonging Life:
Legal, Ethical, and Social Dilemmas

Moderated by Steve Paulson
Executive Producer, To the Best of Our Knowledge


Christopher Comfort, MD
Medical Director, Calvary Hospital

Barbara Coombs Lee, PA, FNP, JD
President, Compassion & Choices

Sam Shemie, MD
Professor of Pediatrics, McGill University
Director, Extracorporeal Life Support Program, Montreal Children's Hospital
Bertram Loeb Chair, Organ and Tissue Donation, University of Ottawa

Mildred Z. Solomon, EdD
President and CEO, The Hastings Center
Clinical Professor of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School

Steve Paulson, Christopher Comfort, Barbara Coombs Lee, Mildred Solomon, Sam Shemie

The ability of modern medicine to prolong life has raised a variety of difficult legal, ethical, and social issues on which reasonable minds can differ. Among these is the morality of euthanasia in cases of deep coma or irreversible injury, as well as the dead donor rule with respect to organ harvesting and transplants. As science continues to refine and develop lifesaving technologies, questions remain as to how much medical effort and financial resources should be expended to prolong the lives of patients suspended between life and death. At what point should death be considered irreversible?

What criteria should be used to determine when to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging treatments in cases of severe brain damage and terminal illness? In exploring these complex dilemmas, medical director Christopher Comfort, organ transplant specialist Sam Shemie, ethicist Mildred Solomon, and attorney Barbara Coombs Lee will examine the underlying assumptions and considerations that ultimately shape individual and societal decisions surrounding these issues.

Webcast Podcast

Tuesday, November 12, 2013
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Reception to Follow
The New York Academy of Sciences
7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich Street, 40th Floor
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This event is part of the Rethinking Mortality: Exploring the Boundaries between Life and Death series, which brings together leading experts to discuss this new frontier at the intersection of life and death, and its potential implications for how we approach and understand our mortality from scientific, ethical, and spiritual perspectives.
Rethinking Mortality: The Emerging Science of Consciousness