Below is a brief from today’s Catholic News Service website. No doubt Rae is an exceptional case. However, the fact that she became so unexpectedly exceptional should make us wonder: How do we know ahead of time which will be the exceptional cases and which won’t?

Brain death raises questions, from Minnesota to Washington to Vatican

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Don’t talk to Raleane “Rae” Kupferschmidt about brain death. The 66-year-old woman from Lake Elmo, Minn., was declared brain dead nearly a year ago after a massive cerebral hemorrhage. She was removed from a ventilator, following her wishes, and her family took her home to die. But when Kupferschmidt began responding to family members, they rushed her back to the hospital, where she regained what her husband called “98 percent” of her earlier vigor. In late September she experienced another health crisis and went into a coma. Although doctors were not as hasty to term it brain death this time, they offered little hope of her survival — a prediction she defied again in October. “I keep thinking that (God) saved me a second time so I could inspire people and let them know they shouldn’t give up, even when things look hopeless,” she told the Stillwater (Minn.) Gazette in a Jan. 13 interview. Coincidentally, the newspaper’s interview with Kupferschmidt took place the day after the President’s Council on Bioethics issued “Controversies in the Determination of Death,” a 144-page white paper on what the council prefers to call total brain failure.

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