Family fights to keep brain dead daughter on life support

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  • K Mchenry, IL
    Jan. 4, 2014 10:41 p.m.

    Jahi can't be euthanized. She already died.

    And her body will not last well all that long with the ventilator.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Jan. 4, 2014 5:48 p.m.

    "The heart has its own pacemaker independent of the brain. As long as it has oxygen, it continues to beat. The heart could actually be removed from the body, placed in saline solution, given oxygen, and still continue to beat. This is why although the brain is dead, the heart continues to beat."

  • Cleetorn Fuaamotu, Tonga
    Jan. 4, 2014 3:14 p.m.

    According to Wikipedia, "A medical ventilator is a machine designed to mechanically move breatheable air into and out of the lungs, to provide the mechanism of breathing for a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently." That is its sole function. It does not stimulate or promote function of the heart. That's controlled elsewhere. If it's so that she is being kept alive through the application of the ventilator and a feeding tube, I can understand how the mother would insist on the cessation of the heartbeat as necessary proof.

    If heartbeat is not externally maintained - as indicated in the article - then the doctors are wrong about her being brain dead. The signal for the heart to continue beating is coming from somewhere - and it's certainly not the ventilator. That's not its function.

    Murdering Terry Schiavo was an absolute travesty and a miscarriage of a judicial system gone haywire. Don’t make Jahi McMath the new poster child for the forced euthanization of people the establishment deems no longer “viable” to its agenda.

  • Deserthiker SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 4, 2014 2:07 p.m.

    Blue: Terri Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state, not brain dead. She was alive, but severely brain damaged. Not at all the same as the current case. Schiavo's case, of course, captured the attention of a wide range of groups of all political persuasions.

  • Deserthiker SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 4, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    There is widespread misunderstanding about the difference between brain dead and comatose/vegetative state. Brain death refers to a mechanism of death, not some in-between near-but-not-quite death. Unfortunately, news media, including this newspaper, have contributed to the misinformation. I feel deeply for the grief the family of this girl is experiencing. Unfortunately, whether born from misinformation or from denial based inability to accept the truth, her family's insistence on continuing heart-lung support cannot reverse her death and only extends the suffering. Any health care or counseling professionals who enable the family's continued failure to accept the reality of their daughter's death are not helping them in the long run. In the meantime, vast sums of money are being wasted on medical equipment, medications, and logistical and professional support that could be helping provide care to individuals still living. It's clear that we need a societal conversation and appropriate legislation clarifying the definition of death and directing appropriate management of the difficult issues surrounding it. In the long run, such clarification is a mercy to grieving families.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    Jan. 4, 2014 12:14 p.m.

    Terri was in a PVS. There is brain damage but not brain death in that instance. There are rare cases when people come out of a coma or VS. In both cases the person isn't dead.

    The question was weather or not her husband could decide for her as he went on with his life in a relationship that produced two children could decide or whether her parents should have decided. There were all in agreement for the first few years of her PVS for her to be on the machines and given nutrition and hydration. There was no specific medical incident that led to the decision to take her off support.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh Phoenix, AZ
    Jan. 4, 2014 10:48 a.m.

    "Jahi McMath underwent a common procedure to get her tonsils removed. "

    This is WRONG. She had a complicated set of reconstructive surgeries that basically remodelled much of the rear part of her throat so it would not obstruct her breathing when she was asleep ... removing the tonsils was only part of it. There was also remodelling her soft palate, and remodelling the interior of her nose to reduce the obstructions.

    It was not common, especially not in an adolescent female.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 4, 2014 9:09 a.m.

    Agreed - the poor girl is dead and her family is in denial.

    Where were these same voices for reason and acceptance of medical reality when Terri Schiavo, also brain dead, captured conservatives' attention from 1990 to 2005?

  • md Cache, UT
    Jan. 4, 2014 7:49 a.m.

    Sadly, pulling the plug is all that can and should be done.
    This situation has played out in most hospitals around the country. Most families are bright enough to realize that nothing can be done to bring their loved one back. Apparently, this is not one of those families.

  • Texas Girl Baytown, TX
    Jan. 4, 2014 3:36 a.m.

    As an ICU nurse, I see this as one of the biggest problems with our nation's mentality about healthcare. Time after time I see families who are unable to let a family member die, even long after there is any quality of life left for that individual. At my small hospital alone, millions of dollars are spent on complex treatments to keep people alive who, medically speaking, have no chance for recovery. And guess who is paying for the majority of these medical bills? Usually not the patient or the family. No wonder the U.S. has the most expensive healthcare system in the world. But it's not just about the money. It's about people- people who are suffering. If you have ever seen someone on life support, it is not pretty. Ventilators, invasive lines and tubes in every orifice, potent medications, and the list goes on. Now, modern medicine can do some amazing things and has brought hope and prolonged life for so many, but it is time we as a nation think about how much intervention is too much.

  • Shuzzie53 HAYWARD, CA
    Jan. 4, 2014 12:48 a.m.

    The family's in complete, utter denial and is backed up by an unscrupulous lawyer.

    Jan. 3, 2014 10:30 p.m.

    This is such a really sad case. But it most saddens me to see that there are people (the family) who can't accept the inescapable reality of death. Do what we will, fight as well will, object as we will, it comes to us all. Is it really so frightening? What is frightening to me is what people go through, which in the end creates nightmares for so many other people when the (God help us!) "legal" system is called in to attempt to stave off the inevitable. Give it up, people! Dying is part of living--and I often think, not the worst part, at all!

  • K Mchenry, IL
    Jan. 3, 2014 9:31 p.m.

    Her heart did stop beating. The machines are preserving her body to a degree by beating her heart and working her lungs for her.

    A person in a coma or vegetative has brain injury. But not brain death. Even the Catholic Church accepts that the soul has left the body when a neurological death has been confirmed.

    We are wrong to say they removed her from the machines and she died. She died, then they removed her from the machines is more accurate in when a neurological death has been confirmed. It must be incredibly painful to see that machine beep and unthinkable to allow the machine to be turned off. The beep just means the machine is functioning. Not that the child is alive.

    It is perfectly reasonable for these parents to take her in for a surgery on her tonsils. We never know what could bring on a tragedy. I am sure they mistrust medical profession after the minor surgery proved to be fatal. Some family members are in the medical profession. I hope they can do a better job of explaining the situation to the parents.

  • mcogito Canton, OH
    Jan. 3, 2014 6:14 p.m.

    The article incorrectly referres to Jahi as comatose. Comatose individuals still have blood flow to their brain ( like Michael Schumacher) She is brain dead. This means dead. She has no blood flow to her brain, those vessels (her carotids and vertebrals) are now clotted off. You could sever this body at C7 and insert a breathing tube (tracheostomy) and a feeding tube ( gastrostomy) and as long as you controlled the bleeding, her body would continue to show what her distraught family mistakes for life. I only use this graphic example to bring home the point. I feel very sorry for her family and understand their denial and mistrust of the medical establishment after all they are the the same folks that killed their loved one and brought us Tuskegee syphilis experiments and several other immoral medical studies. But that damming evidence does not change the facts in this case. She is dead, the only thing that can live on ( and give her family some sense of closure and that she is still with us the living ) would be any of her organs that could be transplanted to save others.

  • DeseretDebbie Corona, CA
    Jan. 3, 2014 5:44 p.m.

    Not comatose but dead. The body is a shell that houses the soul and the spirit. This girl is dead and the family needs to come to terms with the fact that its time to allow God to completely take her home. These parents lack faith.