What happens when your brain dies

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Okay! To begin with, a fragment of our topic, let us clarify what we consider ‘death’ to be. Well, death is proved differently by various field experts. Death, since ages, has been validated by our medical persons with their standard measurement of heart function and lung function. It is when heartbeats stop and the person stops breathing then he or she is declared dead.  A biologist may elaborate death as the ceasing of performance of all biological functions that sustain in any living organism (human being for us). And declaration at part of a medical person validates death of a person in eyes of law too.

What happens to your body when it is dead?

Within several minutes of a person’s death decomposition process sets on. When the heart stops beating the required oxygen supply to all the cells of the body is cut. This leads to an increase in acidity levels of body organs. This process begins in the liver and eventually all the body organs go through the same process and decompose. Body temperature drops and stiffness sets in which spreads from eyelids, neck, jaw to limbs locking the joints.

All the above matter defines the death of a person’s body and other organs. Does it tell anything about the brain of a person? What is the condition of someone’s brain when he/she dies or is dead? Does your brain also show some of the dying signals or is it just hearts and lungs those play the role in it? This article takes into consideration the answers and explanation for all such questions.


Brain death is totally a different concept from the death of a person. Brain death can be, concisely, said to be a complete loss of the brain’s ability to function and perform. It’s a total absence of all neurological functions. IT happens when the blood’s supply to the brain gets blocked and hence brain dies. This loss is permanent i.e. brain death cannot be reversed.

brain scanning

Does brain death mean person’s death?

Not exactly. When the brain stops working, it is generally considered that the person is dead. But this may not be the case because even after brain death, the breathing machinery can be in place and be working. So other organs like heart, kidney, etc. may keep on working but they won’t continue for a longer period of time. There are people who have been on ventilators for a month after their brain death but they soon died afterward. A brain dead person is not considered to be alive by the law either. Doctors say that the heart of a person continues to work as long as it keeps getting oxygen. That is why such patients as kept on ventilators to keep them alive.


Why does this happen? Or What causes brain death?

Brain death is caused by several factors; few being-

  1. Trauma – It can be an extreme mental shock that a person may suffer from.
  2. Head Injury– A severe head injury like a vehicle accident, gunshot or fall etc.
  3. Anoxia –m Anoxia is a form of hypoxia which is a condition where the brain gets a reduced amount of oxygen. And anoxia being worse of it is a condition when the brain gets no oxygen at all. Reasons for the blockage of oxygen supply to the brain can be cardiac arrest, suffocation, choking, strangulation, drug overdose, blood loss, drowning or sudden shocks like electric shocks.

4. Brain tumor– A brain tumor is basically a collection of some abnormal cells in one’s brain. The presence and further growth of these cells causes pressure inside a person’s skull to increase which further causes damage to the brain and hence brain death.  People with such family history or exposure to certain chemicals and radiations are likely to develop tumors.

brain scan
  1. Cerebrovascular injury– It is a non-penetrating injury to the vertebral arteries. It is stretching of vessel walls when head and neck are forcefully moved in rotation or other movements.


Coma v/s Brain Death

The symptoms for both the conditions i.e. coma and brain death seem to be the same; so, are they the ones and the same thing? NO. In coma patient is in a kind of deep sleep though not responding to external stimuli. In coma patient is alive and there are chances for recovery of the patient. But in brain death, there are no chances for recovery. When brain shuts then other functions like breathing may continue but for a shorter period of time, eventually leading to a slow death. 


Vegetative state v/s Brain death

A vegetative state is a disorder where patients’ minds are in a state of partial arousal rather than being completely active due to any severe injury. If this state continues for a month then it is deemed as a Persistent vegetative state. Their undamaged brain parts still help the body in its essential functions of breathing, respiration, etc. The patient may recover with time but in the brain, death patient dies with time.



With each technological and medical advancements, doctors, neurologists, and researchers are pushing the limits ahead. Things and processes that seem to be impossible are being done effectively these days. Bet is also on reversing the brain death condition in a patient. Researchers believe that this irreversible phenomenon can be reversed with the help of stem cells. These cells will be injected in the spinal cords of the brain dead patients. These cells are able to differentiate into other cell types. These will acts as some new tiles in the regenerative process for patients. This in conjunction with the injection of other enzymes is expected to give dawn to brain-dead patients. Let’s just hope that this generation of researchers gets a breakthrough

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