Anencephaly

I would’ve posted a picture of it, but many would consider it not safe for life. Anencephaly is congenital neural tube defect wherein a fetus never develops a brain. Just a brain stem. Usually, babies with anencephaly do not survive more than a few hours past birth. There are a couple of exceptions though.  If you look it up on Youtube, there seem to be two popular types of videos: the medical anomaly or “isn’t this weird?” type, and then the personal “my little angel was diagnosed with this in utero but god told me to carry to full term” type.

It’s interesting to note that despite there being no chance for these babies to ever gain consciousness, let alone have any quality of life, it is not permitted by our current standard of medical ethics to harvest their organs upon birth — even with the consent of their parents. Organ harvest requires that the donor be brain dead: brain stem included. However, waiting that long in these patients makes the organs no longer viable. I guess it’s just not a common enough situation to warrant a reassessment of existing regulations, but if it isn’t possible for a person ever be conscious — to ever feel or sense anything, to ever have a thought or a personality — then in what sense are these human lives? Meanwhile, given that a leading cause of infant mortality in developed nations is congenital defects (eg, of the heart or other replaceable organs), wouldn’t we want policies that increase the availability of donated infant organs?

tl:dr – If we can fix her heart but not his brain, why should we let them both die?

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