A model bill stating that an individual who has sustained either 1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions or 2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. The UDDA was the result of the President’s Commission study on brain death in 1981, which followed the Harvard Ad Hoc Committee on Irreversible Coma, and acts as a model for individual state laws governing the determination of death. Like the Kansas Brain Death Statute, the UDDA provides that two "definitions" may be used in determining death; namely, the traditional circulatory-respiratory and the brain death criteria.
The UDDA has been criticized on several different bases. Some have argued, for example, that brain death is essential to death: it is what death is. According to this line of reasoning, there is no reason to include the circulatory-respiratory (CR) criteria in the definition of death. Another disagreement exists regarding how the term "irreversibility" is to be understood as it is used in the UDDA. Finally, there is some fear that the UDDA was the result of "ethical gerrymandering" that attempted to increase the availability of organs for transplantation in so far as it allowed for Non-Heart-Beating Organ Donation (NHBD). The UDDA has been defended against these criticisms in several interrelated ways: 1) that a single coherent concept or definition of death may be compatible with the two criteria for determining death; 2) that brain death is not essentially what death is but only one criteria for making a determination of death; 3) that the proper understanding of "irreversibility" is that of auto-resuscitation but can also be context specific; and finally, 4) that the legal definition of death should be sufficiently vague to allow for different philosophical and theological conceptions of death and the varying normative implications of these conceptions. Changing the UDDA would require either that we are willing to live with an even more limited amount of organs for transplants or abandoning the dead-donor rule. [Source: Dubois, JM, "Non-Heart-Beating Organ Donation: A Defense of the Required Determination of Death," Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 27 (1999): 126-36.]