The very recent and emotional case of Jahi McMath has gotten international news. A 13-year-old 8th grader goes into Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California to have surgery on her tonsils and surrounding tissue to help with her sleep apnea. The surgery goes well and she wakes up in the ICU. (I’ll get to that in a few) Suddenly she starts to bleed out of her nose and mouth and passes out before the nurses call the Dr. (According to the family. The hospital can’t comment on that stuff because of Federal HIPAA laws) They do a CT scan and determine she has brain swelling and ultimately her brain is no longer functioning.
Now, to determine this neurologists do tests including an EEG, Sensory/Motor function tests, and turning off the vent to see if she starts to breathe on her own. According to court records the hospital had 2 neurologists determine this at the insistence of the family. The second neurologist was the Chief of Neurology for Children’s Hospital.
Ethically the hospital has to act in the best interest of their patient. In this case it would be to let the family say their goodbyes and turn off the vent. Let her go peacefully. The family believe she’s alive still because the vent is keeping her heart going,she’s “warm,” and they believe she’s reacting to the sound of her mother’s voice (According to her family) They go to court to prevent the hospital from turning off the vent. The family believes Jahi will come back to life and recover from her injuries. Then starts the court battles The Family of Jahi McMath vs. Children’s Hospital Oakland. It’s basically a circus. Press conferences on both sides, lots of emotions, protests and somehow the family of Terri Shivo steps in to help the family transfer Jahi from Children’s Hospital to what they say is a “long term facility.”
Now, there are 2-types of death-
Cardiac-when your heart stops
Brain-irreversible end of brain activity (including involuntary activity necessary to sustain life)
Jahi meets the criteria of brain death. An independent neurologist was appointed by the court to assess Jahi and determine if she has any brain function. His name is Dr. Paul Fisher the Chief of Neurology at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital otherwise known as Stanford. This is his report submitted to the court on December 24th. http://media.nbcbayarea.com/documents/Fisher+-+Redacted+Rpt_1.pdf
Let me summarize-
- He summarized what his objective was- an independent exam of Jahi. She had already been examined by 2 previous neurologists.
- He reported on 12/11 Jahi had a CT scan and an EEG. He reviewed both of those reports.
- He preformed a few tests himself:
- a) A Cerebral Brain Flow test (Blood flow through the brain)
- b) He tested her eyes which commonly show alot about brain swelling & flow. He called it “ocular reflexes”
- c) He preformed Motor and Sensory tests. An example is a reflex to pain.
- d) He turned off the vent to test if she can or even attempts to breath on her own.
This is his overall summary which was reported to the court and the judge declared Jahi legally brain dead.
Ethically, Children’s Hospital then has a duty to give the family time to say goodbye and turn off the vent. I know alot of people were outraged- How can they do that? They are barbaric! They were even compared to the Nazi’s at one point. What people don’t understand is it’s just her body. Without a vent to keep her heart going, her body would stop. She may be warm and having some random movements, but that’s the vent, not Jahi. Jahi died on Dec 12th. Alameda Co. Coroner would’ve determined what went wrong with Jahi’s complications,and possible mistakes on the part of the drs, but the family refuses to believe she’s gone.
On Friday, the hospital and Jahi’s family came to an agreement (approved by the court)
- The facility has to come forward and claim Jahi
- The family has to secure a medical transport for Jahi to the long-term facility.
- Jahi’s mom is solely responsible for anything that happens after Jahi leaves Children’s Hospital
- Alameda Co Coroner has to ok her transfer (Because she’s legally dead)
The court also sided with Children’s Hospital- They refuse to insert a G-Tube and Trech needed for Jahi to be in a long-term facility. Jahi is legally dead. They ethically can’t preform these surgeries. Report From Dr. Heidi Flori
Last night, the family got what they wanted. About 8:00pm Jahi was transported to an unknown place to first receive a trech (tube directly to her throat) commonly used if they are on a vent long-term and also to receive a G-Tube which is a tube directly to her stomach to give her nutrients.
Their lawyer made a statement today on Jahi’s condition
‘Jahi is in worse shape than we thought,’ Dolan said. ‘The hospital’s withdrawal of nutrients has caused her to deteriorate more rapidly than we thought. It is just sad. They have starved her.’
Asked whether doctors hired by the family were going to fit a feeding tube, he said that they were assessing the situation right now.
‘Because of the amount of damage to her throat she is not doing very well,’ he said.
‘Jahi is in very bad shape. Right now we don’t know if she is going to make it. The doctors are doing everything they can to help her make it through the day.’
Why are they blaming Children’s Hospital? The reason she is deteriorating is because the body breaks down with death. She’s been dead for almost a month. All this family has to look forward to is bed sores, suctioning, contractures, and digital disimpactions, and nurses turning her every few hours. She will waste away slowly. Is this what the family wants? It may have started as just a simple surgery, but its ending with denial.
Why should they not blame the hospital? (Expect a lawsuit) It’s rumored Jahi had other medical conditions like diabetes which greatly complicates any surgery, and anesthesia comes with risks. The family knew it and signed a consent form. It’s called “informed consent.” There was a reason she wasn’t in a regular recovery unit. She was in the ICU. It was also rumored her mom gave her food when she woke up. With this type of surgery, it’s a big no no.
This story is completely one-sided. Children’s Hospital Oakland (outside of court documents) cannot comment on anything happening medically with Jahi. They are bound by Federal HIPAA laws. So, before we jump on the “Children’s Hospital is awful” banwagon think about this- Jahi’s family is grieving. Losing a child so young is something no mother should have to bare. So, they may be lashing out at the hospital because ultimately her mom trusted her child to Children’s Hospital and because of still unknown complications she died. No amount of prayer, legal documents, finger pointing, or denial can bring her back.
I, like many, believe in Science. Miracles do happen, but let’s face it- Jahi is gone. She will never wake up and be the child she once was. She won’t even be in a Vegetative State because that requires some brain function. Brain trauma and Brain Death aren’t the same thing. I blame the family’s lawyer Chris Dolan, and Terri Shivo’s family for giving this family false hopes. Jahi’s family holds on to that hope, but soon they will realize all she’s going to do is waste away. Slowly. How painful is that?
Children’s Hospital has said they hope this family comes to peace with Jahi’s death. I have the same hopes. It’s a 3 ring circus with a 13 year-old in the center. I hope this comes to a peaceful conclusion soon.