The Walnut Creek facility told the father they wanted to pull the plug on the then-29-year-old woman, who had been in a coma since 2007 after suffering a massive seizure while battling anorexia. But he wasn't ready to give up.
Before the hospital could stop treatment, Meshkin called the lawyer for Jahi McMath's family, Chris Dolan, who along with another attorney filed a temporary restraining order May 1, 2015, to block the hospital from withholding Anahita's treatment. Hours later, two UC San Francisco School of Medicine neurologists and professors conducted an independent test -- ordered by a Contra Costa Superior Court judge -- and determined Anahita was not brain-dead after all.
"She does not meet the clinical criteria for brain death," wrote physicians Wade Smith and Andrew Josephson, according to court records. They noted that she moved her head and elbow when they pinched her hands.
"You were all trying to kill her, and she's still alive," Meshkin recalled saying to hospital staff at the time.
Meshkin said he was inspired by the Jahi case to fight for his daughter, who remains in a coma in a long-term care facility. Jahi's family fought her brain-death diagnosis and won a court order to remove her from UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland.
Meshkin's case is an example of the post-Jahi medical world. Increasingly, brain-death diagnoses are no longer taken as certainties, and new legal options exist to prolong end-of-life decisions. Meshkin is clear -- he doesn't believe his daughter is a medical miracle who recovered from brain death; rather, he believes hospitals and insurance companies are often too quick to make the declarations.
"This is their job to clear beds, and our job is to fight back," Meshkin said Tuesday as he stood beside his daughter in a Walnut Creek care center near Rossmoor. "Mr. Dolan saved Jahi. He saved (Anahita) too. He's my hero and Anahita's savior."
Dolan, who helped get Jahi released from Children's Hospital in January 2014 so she could be taken to a New Jersey care facility, said Anahita's case is another example of hospitals making decisions based on bottom lines, not science.
"In my opinion, it is an example of a physician making a resource determination and using brain death as a way to legitimize their beliefs on the quality of life and how they see this as futile," Dolan said. "Then there is their belief that better utility can be gained by organ transplantation. ... These families have relationships with their loved ones. ...
"Who are we to determine whether or not that relationship is significant enough?"
After Meshkin won the right to keep his daughter on life-support machines, John Muir performed the surgery on her hip, and she has returned to her care facility. A hospital spokesman said because of medical privacy laws and out of respect for the family's privacy, he could not comment on specifics of the case.
"What we can say is that the highly trained specialists on our medical staff adhere to a detailed protocol for determination of brain death," spokesman Ben Drew said. "The protocol exceeds the requirements mandated by state law and directly incorporates the criteria adopted by the American Academy of Neurology."
Meshkin, a 72-year-old Moraga resident, on Tuesday showed a framed photograph of his daughter taken months before she fell into the coma.
The photograph sits at the foot of the bed where his daughter lies, her black hair braided in a ponytail. Meshkin sees her twice a day, and on a recent visit he showed a reporter how when he pinches her nail bed on her right hand, her head jerks back and forth.
Meshkin's wife overdosed and died in 2011 out of grief over their youngest daughter's condition, he said. He has no plans to stop his daughter's care, despite medical professionals who question the decision.
"I'll fight as long as she does," Meshkin said. "If she quits, I will quit. But I have my hope that she'll come back." (Continue Reading)
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Walnut Creek hospital mistakenly diagnoses woman brain-dead