After "dying", how long until I'm 100% dead?

As in, all cellular respiration has stopped? Every one of them.

Minutes? Hours? Days? Weeks? etc.

Need to know when to cancel that trip to Miracle Max?

Whose cells are we talking about? I thought there were bacteria and such in your body that would live on after you yourself were dead.

Yes there are. I was thinking specifically of those that carried my DNA.

Is that 100% rounded off from 99.5, or do you mean 100.00000%?

This probably should be in Great Debates because there is no official definition of dead. This goes along with the abortion debate on when life starts.

Say, someone discovers your body three minutes after you’ve stopped breathing and your heart has stopped. Are you dead? Suppose they start giving you artificial respiration and pounding your heart for 20 minutes. Suppose you pee during those 20 minutes. Was it the pounding or your brain that peed. As soon as they stop the respiration, you revert to nothing.

In my opinion, (which is why this is a debate), when you go to sleep or are in a coma for the last time with no possible hope of regaining consciousness, you’re dead. Officially, you’re dead when the doctor looks at the clock on the wall and declares the time-of-death.

100.00000%. As in “Every one of them.”

I’m wishing to avoid a debate. That’s why I’m defining dead as zero cellular respiration.

And in case anyone cares, I don’t need an answer fast.

Technically, your body can be kept alive for many years (on life support) after your brain has died.

Would it be fair to narrow down the question to: after the heart has stopped, which human cell (not counting gut bacteria, etc) lives longest, and how long is that?

Yes. That would be fair.

When you get the Munchkin’s Death Certificate.

I most sincerely laughed.

About 4-10 minutes, depending on ambient temperature.

The enzymes in your stomach, not being cellular in nature, will continue to break down any food in your stomach (or the stomach itself) for some time after, though I don’t know how long it takes for it to become neutralized and stop. The cells themselves will break down as carbon dioxide is no longer removed by respiration and the acidity breaks down the cellular membranes that hold enzymes in. This will break down more tissues, resulting a human goo stew.

So you continue the process of digestion, both inside and outside your stomach, longer than any other body process, even when everything is 100% dead.

From the previous thread [THREAD=415222]What is the relationship between physical death and cell death?[/THREAD]:

*The process of “cell death” begins when the rate of catabolism (metabolic processes that break down molecules) outstrips anabolism (metabolic processes that construct them). There is no simple answer to your question, as different types of tissue break down faster than others and have different resiliencies and rates of recovery. Some organ tissues like muscle and connective tissues (including blood) can survive for scores of hours or even days if chilled to near-freezing temperatures (hence, organ and blood donation); others, like nervous tissue, can survive only spare minutes without a regular oxygen and carbohydrate supply before they suffer irreparable damage.

Death is actually kind of a nebulous concept; when you get down to the cellular level, you realize that individual cells are actually alive on their own, functioning as a cooperative, interrelated colony, and could be removed and sustained indefinitely if the appropriate conditions and nutrients were provided; indeed, with simple organism, this is exactly how they reproduce, while the extracellular structure of more complex animals have such fundamentally interconnected relationships that separation or interruption of outside processes leads to impared functioning and breakdown. From a legal (in most developed nations) and medical standpoint, death is presumed to have occured once the electrical activity in the brainstem has dropped below a measurable threshold, even though the body’s metabolic processes may continue to function for hours longer. *


Sometimes it can take years.


Ah but are you sure about the little time left to you

I can’t believe no one has done this yet:

Your friend here is only mostly dead.

Many years ago I remember reading about a native group in South America whose language had degrees of death. I think it went something like if you were sick to the point that you couldn’t get out of bed, you were “dead” and if you were unconscious, you were “a lot dead” and if you were actually a corpse, you were “very dead.”

Incorporated by reference by Thudlow Boink:



Oh well, it’s still a funny scene.