For ethics class I'm writing up a case study of a patient who is brain dead, but whose family does not believe in brain death as a criterion for determining "actual death". This is the sort of thing that is quite tricky in modern medicine- after all, "brain death" never used to happen: as soon as your brain lost control of your breathing center, YOU DIED. We never used to have the problem of a dead brain with a body kept more-or-less fresh with Science. While the part of me that LOVES a little Mad Science thinks that this is actually pretty nifty in a Frankenstein's Monster sort of way, the part of me that hates to see wasteful useless medicine practiced cringes at the thought that people are "maintained" on ventilators when they are actually corpses, all because the family simply does not believe that they are gone.
Plus- if they're DEAD, who is PAYING for all these interventions? Probably not insurance, as I'm fairly certain that they stop paying for procedures for deceased people.
Its not an easy decision though, because families may have valid religious reasoning behind their views on death, but that should never trump the fact that we CANNOT allow ONE person to be dead and ONE to be alive under the same conditions and circumstances. Death HAS to be universally applied, or things go downhill fast.