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pic via CNN

pic via CNN

Paul Byrne, a Neonatologist NOT a Neurologist has written another “article of his opinion” on the Jahi McMath case. Is he the Dr. treating her or is his opinion not based on examining Jahi? He talks about the part of our brain that regulates temperature/hormones called the hypothalamus. He says Jahi’s hypothalamus regained function and therefore she cannot be dead.

This is deeply significant, because the human body relies upon the hypothalamus portion of the brain to conduct the temperature-regulating function. More to the point, Jahi’s brain was still functioning to a notable degree, at least during part of the material time of the famous/infamous “brain death” declaration. And her brain would continue to function for at least as long as she is still able to self-regulate her own body temperature. To wit, Jahi’s brain, then, obviously did not fulfill “irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain,” the wording of the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA).

How exactly would he think this part of Jahi’s brain is functioning? Has he actually examined her? Is he the doctor who inserted her trech and g-tube? He is not a neurologist nor does he know anything about the brain function of a child. Unless he physically examined her, he would not know anything about Jahi’s current condition. His “opinion” would be invalid.

I started Googling the hypothalamus in brain dead patients and I found a study- The National Center for Biotechnology Information. 

They studied the hypothalamus function in patients who met the criteria of “brain death”

Here’s the definition of our hypothalamus function-

The hypothalamus is a section of the brain responsible for hormone production. The hormones produced by this area of the brain govern body temperature, thirst, hunger, sleep, circadian rhythm, moods, sex drive, and the release of other hormones in the body. This area of the brain controls the pituitary gland and other glands in the body. This area of the brain is small, but involved in many necessary processes of the body including behavioral, autonomic, and endocrine functions. The hypothalamus’ primary function is homeostasis, which is to maintain the body’s status quo system-wide. Hypothalamic hormones include thyrotropin-releasing, gonadotropin-releasing, growth hormone-releasing, corticotrophin-releasing, somatostatin, and dopamine hormones. These hormones release into the blood through the capillaries, traveling to the pituitary gland where their effects are exerted. Oxytocin and vasopressin are also hypothalamic hormones. The hypothalamus uses a set-point to regulate the body’s systems including electrolyte and fluid balance, body temperature, blood pressure, and body weight. It receives inputs from the body, then initiates compensatory changes if anything differentiates from this set-point. The set-point can migrate, but remains remarkably fixed from day-to-day.

Here’s the study from NCBI- 

According to the report of the Health and Welfare Ministry’s research committee on brain death (1985), “brain death is defined as an irreversible cessation of the total brain function including brain stem.” However, in brain death patients, whether the hypothalamic function which belongs to the brain stem function has completely ceased or not is unknown. In order to evaluate the hypothalamic function in brain death patients, the blood levels of the pituitary hormones and hypothalamic hormones were measured, and anterior pituitary stimulation test with triple bolus injection (TRH 500 micrograms, LH-RH 100 micrograms, regular insulin 0.3-0.7 unit/kg) was performed. The subjects were 13 brain death patients whose clinical states fully satisfied the criteria proposed by the committee. 1) The average blood levels of anterior pituitary hormones in these brain death patients were within normal range, and that of growth hormone was more than the twice of the normal level. 2) The blood anterior pituitary hormones were detectable in almost all cases even several days after the diagnosis of the brain death. 3) LH reserve was maintained in three cases. FSH reserve was maintained in three cases. Prolactin reserve was maintained in two cases. TSH reserve was maintained in one case. 4) Blood ADH (antidiuretic hormones) were detectable in 7 cases out of 9 cases. The blood ADH level of one case, in particular, was rather high (above 10 pg/ml). 5) Histopathologically anterior pituitaries were examined in three autopsy cases. The central necrotic areas were observed in all cases, but normal pituitary tissues existed peripherally. And all anterior pituitary hormones could be recognized immunohistochemically. 6) The blood levels of the hypothalamic hormones (GRF, CRF, LH-RH) were measured in four cases. The hypothalamic hormones were detectable in all cases. In one case, the levels of GRF were within normal range even 9 or 15 days after the diagnosis of brain death.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)


Is it possible for Jahi’s hypothalamus to “regain function” after brain death? Is it possible Dr. Bryne is correct? Is he going by tests of her hormones? According to the study, it’s completely possible she had above normal hormone function in her hypothalamus even after death.

He claims “morally and ethically” Jahi’s family deserved the right to explore this possibility and Children’s Hospital in Oakland robbed them of that right with their “poor care.” What exactly would they be exploring? The hypothalamus alone can’t bring Jahi back- the brain is a complicated organ with many parts working together to make the human body function.

I find it morally reprehensible Dr. Bryne, who has not examined Jahi, is making these accusations and opinions giving this family hope Jahi will recover. She’s 13, and the younger we are the faster our body heals, however if Jahi was going to “regain function” of any part of her brain, it probably and possibly would have happened already.

Here’s his complete article- http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/byrne/140118

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