Singapore has strict brain death criteria: MOH

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has made it clear that stringent medical criteria are used in determining if a patient here is brain dead and should be taken off life support systems.

And two specially trained and certified doctors, one of whom is independent and uninvolved in the patient's care, are required to certify the condition. It also stressed that if brain death is diagnosed correctly, the condition is irreversible.

The ministry made these points in a Forum letter commenting on a Sunday Times report recounting the recovery of Singaporean lawyer Suzanne Chin, who regained consciousness suddenly despite being diagnosed as brain dead in a Hong Kong hospital.

At the time, Ms Chin's husband and family members were faced with the prospect of pulling the plug on her life support systems based on medical advice. But she recovered on the third day, and was on her feet 36 hours later.

MOH said it was "happy that Ms Chin has made a recovery", but urged caution against concluding that correctly diagnosed brain death can be reversed.

vijayan@sph.com.sg

maryamm@sph.com.sg