Since modern medical technology can support the non-intelligent functions of a human body virtually indefinitely (subject to natural aging), the issue has arisen as to whether people in irreversible coma and on life-support systems should be maintained in a vegetative state or allowed to die.
Brain death can be defined as the destruction of all the higher functions of the brain. The person is total unaware of, and unresponsive to their surroundings.
A brain dead survivor of a UK soccer riot in 1989, who had his chest crushed and brain deprived of oxygen, had his feeding bottle discontinued in 1993 following a court order which ruled he had no hope of recovery. The Law Lords called on Parliament to draw up guidelines for future cases, saying the courts were the wrong bodies to decide such controversial ethical and moral issues.