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Temple Trauma Surgeon Trains Doctors To Talk About Brain Death

By Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A Temple trauma surgeon who also trains medical students to follow in her footsteps noticed that while students receive copious training on what brain death is, they aren't necessarily taught how to explain brain death to a waiting family. She resolved to change that and she has come out with a primer to help them out.

Chief of Trauma at Temple University Hospital and Residency Director of that schools General Surgery Dr. Amy Goldberg says this situation can be a challenge for doctors.

"For many of our patients this is very sudden. For somebody who has broken their neck or has a devastating brain injury, the patients may actually look okay even though they are brain dead."

Which makes it all the more harder to accept. How do you tell someone their loved one is brain dead?

"We need to tell them everything we have done to help their loved one and everything we have done to make a diagnosis."

Goldberg says it's crucial to give the family time to accept what has happened before any organ donation requests are made too.

"Families are never sorry that they donated. They are at times sorry they missed that opportunity."

Goldberg says they have worked closely with Gift of Life on how to broach the topic in meaningful, sensitive way.


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