Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Remember the Humanity of Jahi McMath

As in the case of Terri Schiavo, people with severe brain injuries are treated like second class citizens, often being denied the treatment, care, and love that their humanity demands

The tragic facts surrounding 13 year-old Jahi McMath are now well known. She underwent routine surgery at Children’s Hospital Oakland December 9 for removal of her tonsils and some other tissue to alleviate her sleep apnea. After surgery she was alert and sitting up in bed, chatting with her family. However, as her family watched, Jahi began bleeding profusely, the blood on her gown matching the pink popsicle she held in her hand. The bleeding went on for several hours before she went into cardiac arrest and was medically declared  brain dead on December 12.

Ever since, Jahi’s family has been locked in a battle of attrition with Oakland Children’s: The hospital says she’s dead; her family says she’s severely brain-injured.

Oakland Children’s position is brutally cold: Because Jahi has been declared brain-dead, she is therefore completely dead, only staying warm via the life-giving oxygen being pumped into her system by a mechanical ventilator. The hospital leadership has taken every opportunity to make clear that they are following California's legal definition of brain death to the letter. For the hospital, Jahi is a hollow mass of flesh devoid of meaning; the administration has refused to refer to her as a child of a loving family. Instead, they have said that she is a “dead body” and a “deceased person.” Hospital spokesman Sam Singer rubbed even more salt into the wound, noting that “no amount of hope, prayer, or medical procedures will bring her back.”

The hard-nosed corporate line is very simple: Jahi is a mere shell, bereft of humanity, and using up precious resources only because of the naïve and uninformed hopes of her loving but pesky family.
Unsurprisingly, Jahi’s family sees things differently. They watched a vibrant young teenager morph into a starkly silent child, her hopes and potential dashed by a relatively simple medical procedure. They have also made clear that despite her current condition, Jahi is still their beloved child, not some washed-up husk ready for disposal. They have also been clear that Jahi is perhaps not as “dead” as Oakland Children’s Hospital would have us all believe. Jahi’s mother and several family members report that Jahi has responded to familiar voices. They have made the case that at the very least Jahi’s medical condition should be given some time before a radical hospital decision deprives her of her life for good.

For the hospital, Jahi’s medical diagnosis is certain and final, a diagnosis they want to leverage to close the book on a public relations crisis that has already badly diminished the reputation of the facility.

It’s not that simple, however, because no medical diagnosis is absolute. The research literature is rife with clinically observed instances of patients outstripping their physicians’ dire predictions by months, years, and even decades.

And that includes diagnoses of brain death.

Full Article and Source:
Remember the Humanity of Jani McMath


Finny said...

I feel this family's pain and equally feel the hospital's coldness.

Anonymous said...

You know, it hasn't even been a month since the botched surgery.

If the hospital is right, it should have waited long enough for the family to adjust to the shock of what happened and realize the inevitable. A tiny amount of compassion and understanding goes a long way.

If the hospital is wrong, as it surely could be (after all, these are the same so-called professionals who botched the surgery), God help us all.

The overarching theme of either of these two possibilities is the arrogance and unaccountability of the medical so-called professionals involved here.

They will tell us when to live or die, when to laugh or cry, when to mourn our still-breathing loved ones, damn it!

And we will pay them outrageous sums for the privilege!

And if we question them, they will stomp all over us with steel-toed boots.

By the way, there is a clueless, heartless, well-paid law firm behind all this shameless maneuvering -- why hasn't the law firm been publicly identified?

I think the mamas of these shameless lawyers should read about their children's exploits in the morning newspaper. Perhaps they could smack some sense into these people.

Anonymous said...

There are many different points of view on this situation, but the family's point of view should prevail over that of medical providers, strangers to this unfortunate lady.

This seems at odds with the Jani McMath case, but it's really not. Common theme? The doctors, not the family, make these decisions, no matter what the law provides. They have no respect for the wishes of their patient or the family.

Sue said...

Very well stated Anon: "...By the way, there is a clueless, heartless, well-paid law firm behind all this shameless maneuvering -- why hasn't the law firm been publicly identified?.."

Expose the cold heartless lawyers.

Beware of hospitals - Social Workers working in concert with: ____________(fill in the blanks) and eyes wide open with hospital management level it's all about business, all about the money, quite the opposite of the caring by nurses and staff.

And keep in mind hospitals have layers of lawyers who will file guardianship on their patient not only the elderly but younger patients so beware and be prepared.

Betty said...

Anon, you're 100% right. The hospital rushed to judgment on this little girl. Everyone deserves a chance.

Why was giving her a chance such an imposition to them? If it was their daughter, they might see things differently.

Bobby Schindler, you're my hero!

Anonymous said...

didn't they do away with the concept of brain death itself and brain death being the criteria for ending advanced life support ?