I would like to wish you and yours a very healthy, prosperous, blessed Happy New Year!!
Jahi McMath. Sigh. It has been eight years since we have had an opportunity, as a nation, to discuss death and dying. Terri Schiavo provided us the last opportunity. We fumbled the ball and never got into the discussion. Now, we have Jahi McMath. First, let’s understand that this is a tragedy of epic proportions. A 14-year-old, previously healthy teenager should not go into the hospital for a routine operation and end up brain-dead. This should never happen. Secondly, in the United States since the late 1950s brain death has equaled death. Brain death is an irreversible condition. In the condition of brain death, the patient has lost all measurable brain function. This means that not only is there no evidence of higher brain function like thought and following commands, but neither is there evidence of lower brain function, which would include pupillary response, spontaneous breathing and other brain reflexes. There is no hope, with current medical technology, to reverse this syndrome. Because Jahi McMath was previously healthy and also extremely young, her heart is able to pump blood through her body without the assistance of her brain. The heart is on autopilot. Unfortunately, this is the state that in which she has been since December 12. Currently, the family is looking for facilities that will “take care of” their daughter. To what end? The harsh reality is that their daughter is gone. Unless we, the medical community, can come up with some way to regenerate dead brain cells or to transplant a brain, their daughter is not coming back. This is an extremely sad case. I hope and pray that the family and parents of Jahi McMath find peace and understanding. I’ll have more to say on this later. (more…)