The family of California teen Jahi McMath, who had been determined legally brain-dead for almost 10 months, now wants a court to reverse that decision, which would have her legally declared back from the dead. The young teen, age 13, of Oakland, California, has been on machines, which feed her and also keep her internal organs going since she was confirmed as being brain dead after she had a tonsillectomy on Dec. 12, 2013.
Brain death is the irreversible loss of brain function and is recognized as one form of death. The Alameda County Coroner’s Office even allotted the girl a death certificate, stated several different media sources. However, her family’s lawyer Christopher Dolan turned in court documents last week that stated Jahi has regained some of her brain activity.
Dolan reported that she underwent a brand new MRI and it allegedly showed some electrical activity inside her brain. This supposedly suggests that brain death is not “irreversible” as has been formerly believed. Her family also states that the teen is responding to both voice commands and to touch.
They now want an unparalleled court order which will declare McMath to be alive once again. Dolan explained that physicians at the International Brain Research Foundation were the ones who discovered the signs of brain functioning after they performed a number of tests on the girl last week.
Since the time that Jahi was declared brain dead, her mother has wanted to continue having her daughter’s organs on life support. The teen was first at a hospital in Oakland and later moved to an unidentified location in New Jersey. It was in June of this year that a news source out of New Jersey reported that the teen was in a Catholic children’s hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Dolan noted that Jahi and her parents had moved to a private home in New Jersey around a month or so ago where the girl continues to be on life support. Jahi’s family is allowing their lawyer to show video clips to both the media and also the general public they have filmed that they believe proves the young teen is still alive. The clip embedded below is the one that appears to show her moving her foot after her mother asks her to do so.
Philip DeFina, who is the executive and primary scientific officer at the International Brain Research Foundation, declared that Jahi has reacted to directions given to her numerous times. He noted that there was a definite consistency to what was happening with the girl. DeFina added that an examination of Jahi had also discovered that her brain was amazingly still holding together, instead of “liquefying” as what would have been expected of a brain-dead body that had been on life-support for so many months. DeFina also explained that several different scans of the teen’s brain were showing signs of electrical activity, and other tests, which had been performed, appeared to show blood flowing to Jahi’s brain.
Arthur Caplan, who is the chief of medical ethics at New York University’s Medical Center, stated that he has no knowledge of any cases where a person who was declared brain dead ever had that decision reversed. He warned that the information gathered on the girl had to be also scrutinized and inspected by other examiners and specialists in the medical field before there could be any kind of conclusions or decisions made. Caplan declared that if what they claimed with Jahi were to actually be found true, it would end up being an earth shocking development in the understanding of death.
Attorneys for the Children’s Hospital in California stated that all evidence in the girl’s case still backs the decision that Jahi is legally dead. , One of the hospital lawyers, Douglas Strauss, noted in court papers, that the situation was a very sad one, where the court had to step in and make the proper determination that McMath was dead. There is no realistic foundation or legal reasoning for requiring those involved to have to go through a repeat of litigation of that correctly reached answer.
It was after her surgery on Dec. 9, 2013 that Jahi started bleeding profoundly and it sent her into cardiac arrest. She was then declared as being brain-dead on Dec. 12. Her parents and other members of her family rejected the belief that the teen was dead as long as her heart kept beating. They took their fight to court last winter in search of an order to avert the hospital from taking away Jahi’s respirator and feeding tube.
The two sides ended up coming to an agreement, which allowed the girl to be moved from the hospital if her parents took over legal responsibility for any additional complications. Jahi was taken out of the hospital on Jan. 5, 2014, only two days before an injunction which would have permitted the medical facility to withdraw all the equipment. A new court hearing is planned for Oct. 9. It will possibly be the one to decide whether Jahi, who has been legally brain-dead for almost 10 months, will be considered brought back to life, at least in the legal sense.
By Kimberly Ruble