Is He Dead Yet?
Zach Dunlap's story, which took place in Oklahoma City, is a unifier.
No matter what side of the organ donor argument you are on, when you read Zach Dunlap's story you will probably take a step back—to contemplate.
Zach Dunlap, 21, was "more dead" than Terri Schiavo was before he woke up from his coma.
He was pronounced dead in Wichita Falls, Texas, after he was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident. After seeing the results of a brain scan in which "there was no activity at all, no blood flow at all," his father, Doug, approved organ harvest from Zach's "lifeless body."
But as family members were paying their last respects, they wanted to check if he was really dead. He wasn't. Zach suddenly moved his foot and hand and reacted to a pocketknife scraped across his foot and to pressure applied under a fingernail.
Incredibly, though Dunlap said he has no recollection of the crash, he does remember one thing and that is hearing the doctors pronounce him dead.
"I'm glad I couldn't get up and do what I wanted to do," Zach said.
"Just makes me thankful, makes me thankful that they didn't give up."
This is quite a horrifying statement. How many other "brain dead" people heard doctors declare them dead? How many others were given capital punishment while lying helpless in a hospital bed?
Four months after he was declared brain dead and doctors were about to remove his organs for transplant, Zach Dunlap says he feels "pretty good." I would say he should. Not just because he's alive and well, but more so for the message his story sends the rest of us.
The story of Zach Dunlap should make a lot of people feel good—all those who understand that while there is breath there is life.
No matter what side of the argument you are on – pulling the plug or not, donating organs or not – this story really has to make you think.
Perhaps when it comes to life and death decisions people are too quick to pull the trigger.
Certainly one thing we can learn from Zach Dunlap's "return to life": Not enough effort is made to watch cases like this and allow them to play themselves out before we pull the plug.