Dr. Himanshu Bansal and a couple of bioscience companies have received approval in India for a clinical trial in which 20 brain dead patients will be treated in an attempt to bring them back to life. The Reanima Project proposes to use stem cells, peptides, and nerve stimulation to promote brain healing and/or regeneration. This experiment is disturbing to bioethicists for several reasons. First is the murky definition of “brain dead,” and the second is the possibility of success. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the restored brain may or may not be the same person.
Personal identity is generally assumed to involve some form of continuity. For someone to survive, we are generally discontent with mere bodily survival, there has to be a person with some psychological continuity, too. Exactly what kind of continuity is often glossed over in standard philosophical considerations about personal identity since these are more often concerned with the metaphysics of what is going on than the messy issues of radical personality change or brain damage.
Popular Science looks at the many possible outcomes if the trial is successful. The odds of success are long, but “success” might not even be an improvement for the patient. Or the rest of us. -via mental_floss