Prolonging Life: Legal, Ethical, and Social Dilemmas

Panel Discussion November 12, 2013

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.


  • Steve Paulson Journalist and Executive Producer, TTBOOK
  • Christopher P. Comfort Medical Director, Calvary Hospital
  • Barbara Coombs Lee President, Compassion & Choices
  • Sam Shemie Professor of Pediatrics, McGill University
  • Mildred Z. Solomon President and CEO of The Hastings Center


  • Tuesday, November 12, 2013
  • 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
  • The New York Academy of Sciences
    7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich Street, 40th Floor


This volume brings sheds light on the emerging frontier at the intersection of life and death, with an emphasis on how we understand and approach our mortality from scientific, ethical, and even spiritual perspectives.

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About This Series

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.



  • Organ Donation and Presumed Consent Nov 12, 2013 05:03 4163
  • When is Physician-Assisted Death Not Appropriate? Nov 12, 2013 03:45 1275
  • Improving Doctor-Patient Communication During "Deathing" Nov 12, 2013 06:46 607
  • Loaning Human Organs: Scientifically Possible? Nov 12, 2013 02:28 128
  • Barbara Coombs Lee: A Good Death Nov 12, 2013 01:49 1150
  • Difficult Issues in Palliative Care: Christopher Comfort Nov 12, 2013 02:57 1380
  • Survival Prediction in Terminally Ill Patients Nov 12, 2013 02:45 490
  • "Aid in Dying" vs "Assisted Suicide" Nov 12, 2013 03:14 1429
  • Sam Shemie Explains the Dead Donor Rule Nov 12, 2013 04:05 1686
  • Ethicist Mildred Z. Solomon on End-of-Life Care Nov 12, 2013 03:19 981
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