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Brain dead person breathing through machine. How long for heart to stop beating once ventilator is off?

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Pediatrician, Infectious Diseases
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 1528 Questions
Say this person is decleared brain dead and he's only breathing through a machine. If an appointed medical proxy finally makes a decision to let this person go and takes him off the machine (or ventilator), how long does it take for his heart to stop beating completely after he's off the ventilator? Also, could you tell me the exact process of how someone appoints a medical proxy? Could someone who is an estranged son or daughter be appointed by their ailing parent as a medical proxy without their knowledge?

(I'm a graduate film student and currently developing a short movie related to a medical proxy so hopefully you can help me get some answers to those question above. Thank you.)
Posted Thu, 27 Sep 2012 in Heart Failure
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 3 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.
A medical proxy is also known as a health-care proxy or medical power of attorney. It is a legal agreement where you appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make a medical decision for yourself.
A medical proxy is a legal document and the requirements vary by state. One can obtain a proxy form from an attorney or some hospitals. Once the form is completed, it needs that the person share a copy with his primary physician as well as provide the person whom one appointed a copy. One can also register your medical proxy with an online database, WWW.WWWW.WW but I am not aware of its details .
Another option frequently used by terminally ill or aged patients is a living will type of agreement called Advanced directives.
Advance directives are documents, written while a person is still able to make decisions, that express their wishes as it relates to life support in case they are not able to express their wishes in the future. These include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), respirators, and any other measures that the person cares to list.
In case of brain dead people , if there are clear statements or directives to stop ventilator as mentioned by the person in an advanced directive or as decided by his medical proxy then the ventilator may be turned off by the doctors . The heart usually stops beating within minutes ( as soon as the oxygen in its muscles are depleted) but the doctors observe the person for a period of half to two hours as there might be rare instances where cardiac pumping may go on especially if cardio tonics like adrenaline have just been injected in the person . But for your purpose I guess sometimes few (1 to 5 min) minutes after stopping the ventilation is the usual time when the patients heart stops beating .
Hope I have answered your query.
Kindly accept my answer in case you have no further queries.

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