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Tue Dec 24, 2013, 11:30 AM

Mother of Jahi McMath, brain-dead after tonsillectomy, vows to fight

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-jahi-mcmath-mother-brain-dead-tonsillectomy-20131224,0,4737833.story#axzz2oKh2UIXH

The mother of a 13-year-old Oakland girl who was pronounced brain-dead after a routine tonsillectomy says she will not stop fighting to have her daughter kept on a ventilator in the hopes that one day she'll wake up.

Jahi McMath has been at the center of a public battle since she was found to be brain-dead soon after a routine procedure to remove her tonsils at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland on Dec. 9.

Her family has been fighting to keep her on a ventilator, despite the determination of a supervising doctor at the hospital that "there is absolutely no medical possibility" that Jahi's condition is reversible "or that she will someday recover from death," according to a court declaration.

An Alameda County judge Monday ordered hospital officials to keep Jahi on a ventilator until Dec. 30 while an independent neurologist reviews her case. That second medical opinion could be delivered as soon as Tuesday.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-jahi-mcmath-mother-brain-dead-tonsillectomy-20131224,0,4737833.story#ixzz2oPVA97ha

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I was afraid this would happen - they wanted a second opinion and then I read they wanted a third.
I've never been in this situation and it must be horrendous - your loved one goes in for a routine procedure and dies. It's a terrible shock. But the girl is DEAD and they refuse to accept it.

46 replies, 2413 views

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Reply Mother of Jahi McMath, brain-dead after tonsillectomy, vows to fight (Original post)
LiberalElite Dec 2013 OP
Gidney N Cloyd Dec 2013 #1
COLGATE4 Dec 2013 #2
Barack_America Dec 2013 #7
gerogie2 Dec 2013 #43
Th1onein Dec 2013 #8
COLGATE4 Dec 2013 #11
Th1onein Dec 2013 #12
COLGATE4 Dec 2013 #13
Th1onein Dec 2013 #19
COLGATE4 Dec 2013 #36
Th1onein Dec 2013 #38
COLGATE4 Dec 2013 #39
Th1onein Dec 2013 #41
COLGATE4 Dec 2013 #44
Th1onein Dec 2013 #45
Yo_Mama Dec 2013 #26
nomorenomore08 Dec 2013 #30
XemaSab Dec 2013 #17
Th1onein Dec 2013 #20
magical thyme Dec 2013 #23
LiberalElite Dec 2013 #4
XemaSab Dec 2013 #18
LiberalElite Dec 2013 #28
Barack_America Dec 2013 #6
LisaL Dec 2013 #16
magical thyme Dec 2013 #24
Barack_America Dec 2013 #3
Gidney N Cloyd Dec 2013 #5
LiberalElite Dec 2013 #29
Th1onein Dec 2013 #32
LiberalElite Dec 2013 #37
stuarttman63 Dec 2013 #9
Mariana Dec 2013 #10
WillowTree Dec 2013 #14
LisaL Dec 2013 #15
nomorenomore08 Dec 2013 #34
Are_grits_groceries Dec 2013 #21
magical thyme Dec 2013 #25
magical thyme Dec 2013 #22
JVS Dec 2013 #27
Th1onein Dec 2013 #31
Barack_America Dec 2013 #33
cthulu2016 Dec 2013 #42
davidn3600 Dec 2013 #35
avebury Dec 2013 #40
vankuria Dec 2013 #46

Response to LiberalElite (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 11:47 AM

1. I have a hard time begrudging the family a second or third opinion.

It may seem pointless to those of us on the outside looking in but unless the respirator and other equipment is desperately needed elsewhere right away, so what?

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Response to Gidney N Cloyd (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 11:49 AM

2. You've got to consider the absolutely

staggering cost for each day she's kept on life support that the family is going to have to pay. Hope springs eternal but there comes a point where obstinance by itself is counterproductive.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:14 PM

7. Do insurances continue paying for care of a body declared legally dead?

Honestly something I've never considered before. I would sincerely doubt they do.

And you are right, the care of this deceased girl is going to be unthinkably expensive. From the ICU bed and nursing care, to the ventilator care, to the medications being used to maintain her blood pressure. It would be really sad to see her family lose everything to medical bankruptcy after losing her.

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Response to Barack_America (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 26, 2013, 03:30 AM

43. The child is on medicaid

The government pays the medical bills for this. I don't know, but I imagine the lawyer is working pro bono since this family lives below the poverty level. I doubt if pro-life orgs will get involved since this is a non-white and they don't care what happens to them.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:18 PM

8. Counterproductive to what?

I don't think it's the hospital's privilege to choose, in this case. If the family is responsible, or their insurance is responsible, for the bills, then it's their choice.

Of course, I'm speaking as the sister of a patient who Methodist Hospital tried to pull off of a ventilator while she was fully awake and cognizant.

This family shouldn't have to be going through this battle right now. They paid for the insurance, let the insurance company take the breaks. I'm sure that they calculate profits with something like this in mind; God knows they have to make their profit.

What many people don't know is that insurance companies have contracts with hospitals. Those contracts stipulate that the insurance company will pay so many dollars a day for an intensive care stay, a cardiac intensive care stay, regular room, etc. Of course, the unspoken part of this agreement is that the hospital won't keep a patient in intensive care, on life support, for too long, so as not to cut into the profits of the insurance company. In other words, the hospital is in collusion with the insurance company to end a life, when it begins cutting too much into the profit of the insurance company.

When you have a patient like this, and a family that won't give up hope, you end up with the insurance company pressuring the hospital to pull the plug. They can blather all they want to about "There's a flat EEG," "There's no blood supply to the brain...." etc., (of course, they didn't have to bother with EEGs or blood supply to the brain, when it came to my sister, because Texas has a Futile Care Law) but the bottom line is money.

These are insurance company death panels. Nothing more; nothing less.

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Response to Th1onein (Reply #8)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 01:12 PM

11. There may be some truth to that. But

even if the Insurance company pays some of the bill, the family is going to be left with enormous bills for co-pay and non-covered expenses. The longer this drags on, the more they will owe.

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Response to Th1onein (Reply #12)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 01:32 PM

13. I think you're getting carried away with your

emotions on this one. No, I really DON'T think they've thought about that at all. Would you if you were in that situation? All that concerns them right now is the fate of their child, who they are desperately trying to preserve against all odds and against medical certainty. Only after the inevitable tragic conclusion to this and when they're deep into their grieving period will they receive the unexpected and totally unwelcome bill listing some 20-30 pages of itemized hospital expenses which they are now liable for and expected to promptly pay. By refusing to face reality now they aren't truly buying a minute's more real peace but, adding insult to injury are instead only adding exponentially to their future financial liability in exchange for a false promise of "maybe a fourth - or fifth opinion will be different". Denial without basis in fact can be a recipe for problems.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #13)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 04:28 PM

19. OH, so this should be an unemotional decision? Haha!

So this should be an unemotional decision, to end or not end the life of a loved one? Are you kidding me? Maybe we should just do away with healthcare, period. Someone gets sick, let 'em die. Costs too much to keep 'em here, right?

Look, as a parent, I've BEEN in their position. And, as the sister to someone who was subject, literally, to a "death panel," I've been in their position. And, yeah, you think about money, but money isn't your greatest concern, and that is as it should be.

You have to understand that YOUR reality is not the same as theirs. YOUR fait accompli might not be their fait accompli. The fact is that it's not up to YOU to judge what someone should or shouldn't do in their situation, because YOU ARE NOT IN THAT SITUATION.

I would rather look behind me, if my child were in that bed, and say, "You know, I know she died, but I DID EVERYTHING I COULD POSSIBLY DO TO SAVE HER." That's what counts. In fact, that's about the only thing that counts, in these situations.

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Response to Th1onein (Reply #19)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 07:21 PM

36. I would rather look behind me, if my child were in that bed,

and say, "You know, I know she died, but I DID EVERYTHING I COULD POSSIBLY DO TO SAVE HER." That's what counts. In fact, that's about the only thing that counts, in these situations.

Did it ever occur to you that what you're saying is that you're doing it for yourself, not for her?

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #36)

Wed Dec 25, 2013, 01:05 AM

38. has it occurred to you that that is your obligation as a parent?

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Response to Th1onein (Reply #38)

Wed Dec 25, 2013, 08:57 AM

39. Of course. But don't pretend that you're

doing it "for the child".

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #39)

Thu Dec 26, 2013, 01:19 AM

41. Who needs to pretend? An obligation to a child is obviously FOR the child.

You need to get a grip on logic here.

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Response to Th1onein (Reply #41)

Thu Dec 26, 2013, 10:32 AM

44. No. In your scenario you yourself admitted

that you would carry out (unavailing) heroics with a brain-dead child so it would make YOU feel that 'you had done everything". Don't kid youself - at that point you're doing it only for yourself, to assuage feelings of guilt. It doesn't affect the child in the slightest.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #44)

Fri Dec 27, 2013, 02:14 AM

45. You're wrong, but you go ahead and believe what you want.

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Response to COLGATE4 (Reply #13)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:09 PM

26. What if it's not reality?

I grant that given the outside opinion that may be unlikely, but in these circumstances it is understandable that the family is suspicious, and I agree with the poster who said that the way to put it behind them is to know that they gave her every chance.

Brain death determinations are sometimes wrong, and I saw one article saying that this child's grandmother is a nurse, so simply chalking it up to unwillingness to deal with reality is mistaken. And if that's the 'tude they picked up from the hospital staff, the hospital staff are somewhat responsible for this situation.

It can be difficult to detect brain death or irreversible coma until sedation is withdrawn. Possibly Grandma knows this.

I am in no way suggesting that the hospital made a mistake or did anything medically wrong. But I don't think assuming that the family is entirely off-base is fair.

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Response to Th1onein (Reply #12)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:20 PM

30. So you're presenting these one-in-a-million cases as a realistic possibility for the family

in the OP? Seems almost cruel in a way...

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Response to Th1onein (Reply #8)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 03:26 PM

17. The hospital is probably going to be paying the bill

n/t

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #17)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 04:30 PM

20. You know, that's something no one is talking about....

If this mishap is the hospital's mishap, it is the dirtiest of the dirty to try to cut their costs now, by withdrawing life support from this girl.

I've seen them do that, too. How in the hell they get away with it, I don't know.

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Response to Th1onein (Reply #8)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:00 PM

23. 6 doctors have declared her brain dead, including 3 that the parent's brought in

Today's is the court's neurologist.

Exactly how many neurologists does it take to declare somebody brain-dead?

What if this precedent is extended to cardiac? Will a judge be able to order chest compressions nonstop forever, until the parents are ready to accept that the person has died?

I am very sorry for what you experienced, which must have been horrific. But this is hardly the same situation. This girl has been brain-dead for weeks now. There will be no miracle sparking awake. Why should the insurance company be forced to pay for the mother's religious beliefs?

"Jahi's mother, who was in court Tuesday, has said she believes Jahi can recover and that God may "spark her brain awake.""

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Jahi-McMath-is-brain-dead-doctor-testifies-5091298.php

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Response to Gidney N Cloyd (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:00 PM

4. I'm not begrudging

them a second or third opinion. It appears now the mother wants to take it way beyond the reasonable.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #18)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:17 PM

28. wow.

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Response to Gidney N Cloyd (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:08 PM

6. Generally, two neurologists are required to independently examine a patient...

...before a declaration of brain death can be made.

I've done these exams before, the findings are not subtle. What gets tricky is keeping patients off sedation for long enough to exclude a drug effect. Mechanical ventilation is extremely uncomfortable and sedation is typically used to ensure the patients are comfortable.

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Response to Barack_America (Reply #6)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 03:10 PM

16. She was examined by two from the hospital who declared her brain dead.

Then another one was appointed by the court to examine her. He also said she was brain dead.

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Response to LisaL (Reply #16)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:01 PM

24. there were another 3 specialists that the hospital brought in at the mother's request

Who all reached the same conclusion, she is irreversibly brain dead. No cerebral or brain stem activity.

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Response to LiberalElite (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 11:55 AM

3. Her brainstem will soon start to deteriorate.

After the cortex dies, the brainstem starts to follow within days, eventually leaving the body unable to sustain circulation. There are no medical interventions that can keep a body functioning without a brainstem.

It really would be in her family's best interests to give up these miracle hopes and begin the grieving process. Sadly, they will likely be forced to begin this process soon.

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Response to Barack_America (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:05 PM

5. One CNN article said also that the longer the body's on life support, the less accurate the autopsy.

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Response to Gidney N Cloyd (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:17 PM

29. Then this is really

counterproductive if they want to sue, (which I think they should).

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Response to LiberalElite (Reply #29)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:25 PM

32. LOL. I don't think they're thinking about that, LiberalElite.

Probably most people in their situation wouldn't be thinking about that, either.

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Response to Th1onein (Reply #32)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 07:43 PM

37. I can't say what anyone else would be thinking but not arguing the point nt

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Response to LiberalElite (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:29 PM

9. I know I'm getting off on a tangent here but . . .

It occurs to be that no one's ever said that whenever there's a controversy about keeping someone alive who may be brain-dead, it's never regarding a person of color. It's always someone white who they're trying to keep alive. The case of Terry Scheivo, here in my home state of Florida, is a perfect case in point. She'd been brain-dead for years before she was taken off a machine and allowed to die peacefully. The whole case was a cause-celebre for the Right, energizing everyone from our Governor at the time, Jeb Bush, to right wing state senators and members of the Florida House. They lobbied for her to be kept on life support and portrayed those who wanted her off as those who had no respect for human life. The story, of course, got serious traction on, where else, Fox news and did until her husband got the right to take her off a ventilator and let her die peacefully. I believe that the whole process took fifteen years. Cut to the present day when this teen-age African-American girl goes in for a tonsillectomy and winds up in a coma. It's only been a month or so since this happened and already the hospital is clamoring for her to be taken off life support and there is no controversy in the media about this story at all. There's no campaign on the Right to keep this girl alive; indeed there is no mention on right wing media of this story at all. One wonders about the double standard here.

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Response to stuarttman63 (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 12:35 PM

10. IIRC, Schiavo was not brain dead.

She was in a persistent vegetative state. It's not the same thing.

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Response to Mariana (Reply #10)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 02:51 PM

14. Thank you. Too few people make the distinction.

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Response to Mariana (Reply #10)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 03:09 PM

15. Exactly.

Schiavo's brain stem was functioning. She was not attached to any machines except feeding tube.

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Response to stuarttman63 (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:34 PM

34. She's not "in a coma." She's brain-dead, period.

Yes, we all know most right-wingers are racist. But this case is still not comparable to Schiavo's.

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Response to LiberalElite (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 04:48 PM

21. I would never make them take her off the ventilator.

It was hard enough to make that decision when my father was in a coma much less a child. Losing a child is its own special kind of hell.
My guess is that she may be fighting this in order to keep from facing the horrible truth. It also may feel to her that if her daughter is taken off the ventilator then she will have failed her.

She may reach a point in her fight that she can't go on. I hope that's true. Until her last hope or whatever is exhausted she will persist. I hope there is such a point.

We also might take into consideration who is advising her. I had a cousin who contracted menengitis. She slowly went downhill until she was brain dead. Her husband was in agony over the decision he was facing.

My Mama told me he was ready to let her go when some minister butted in and began talking to him. He gave some 'religious' argument and her husband kept her on the ventilator. Mama told me he made his peace with this and was content to wait. Her parents, siblings, and friends went through this hell with him. They were not at peace with it at all. They weren't going to fight him though.

It was a very rough time.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Reply #21)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:08 PM

25. She believes that God may "spark" her brain awake.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Jahi-McMath-is-brain-dead-doctor-testifies-5091298.php

"Jahi's mother, who was in court Tuesday, has said she believes Jahi can recover and that God may "spark her brain awake.""

The thing is, her brain is not asleep. It is dead. It is totally inactive, including the brain stem.

The mother doesn't have to make anybody take the girl's remains off the ventilator. She simply has to stop fighting. She vowed today to continue fighting to keep her on. Doubtless her lawyers will continue on for the fame and fortune.

Hopefully the courts will finally consider that 6 doctors, include 3 specialists hired by the parents and today's by the courts, have all found her daughter irreversibly brain dead and will allow the hospital to free up its resources to help those who can be helped.

I personally wonder about the precedent that has been set, whereby a court can ignore the consistent findings of 2 physicians and 3 specialists hired by the "injured" party, and continue dragging out such a sad situation.

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Response to LiberalElite (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 04:55 PM

22. Apparently, today's opinion was actually the SIXTH.

According to this article, along with 2 hospital physicians, the parents have already brought in 3 of their own specialists who confirmed she is absolutely brain dead.

And today, the court-appointed neurologist confirmed she is brain dead. No activity anywhere, including the brain stem.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Jahi-McMath-is-brain-dead-doctor-testifies-5091298.php

"An independent physician appointed by a judge to examine Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old Oakland girl who suffered complications from tonsil-removal surgery, testified Tuesday that she is legally brain dead and cannot recover any brain function."

"Children's Hospital said it had two in-house physicians examine Jahi and brought in three independent doctors at the family's request, with each one confirming the diagnosis of brain death."

"Jahi's mother, who was in court Tuesday, has said she believes Jahi can recover and that God may "spark her brain awake.""

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Response to LiberalElite (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:12 PM

27. Why is this even in the courts? The hospital should do as the guardian of the patient says.

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Response to JVS (Reply #27)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:22 PM

31. Oh, they've now got a law in California akin to the Futile Care Law in Texas.

Probably signed by a Rethug, like Texas' law was. These guys are for the insurance companies, make no mistake about it. Nothing to do with compassion.

In my sister's case, the hospital was responsible for a bedsore, and used that as an excuse to want to pull the plug, saying that she was in intractable pain. YEAH, she was, because of THEIR lack of care.

These things are never really about the patient; they are about the money, for the hospitals and the insurance companies. The only one who truly cares about the patient are the family.

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Response to JVS (Reply #27)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:30 PM

33. Brain dead is legally dead.

Hospitals can unilaterally withdraw life support for legally dead individuals...unless the law intervenes.

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Response to JVS (Reply #27)

Thu Dec 26, 2013, 02:16 AM

42. That cannot sensibly be the protocol

If a family could over-rule a pronouncement of death unilaterally then a lot of deceased people would never get taken off life support... like, ever.

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Response to LiberalElite (Original post)

Tue Dec 24, 2013, 05:37 PM

35. A judge just ruled that the hospital can remove her from life support; the family will likely appeal

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A judge has ordered that a 13-year-old Northern California girl declared brain dead after suffering complications following a tonsillectomy be taken off life support.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo issued the order Tuesday but gave Jahi McMath's family until 5 p.m. Dec. 30 to file an appeal. She will stay on life support until then.

Grillo issued the order after a Stanford doctor testified that Jahi is brain dead. Dr. Paul Graham Fisher's evaluation was the second to reach that conclusion.

Children's Hospital of Oakland, where Jahi is hospitalized, has asked that the girl be taken off life support after doctors there also concluded she was brain dead. Her family wants to keep Jahi connected to a breathing machine.

The family has said it believes she is still alive and that the hospital should not remove her from the ventilator without its permission.

http://news.yahoo.com/teen-ordered-off-life-support-family-appeal-223311842.html;_ylt=AwrTWVUrDLpSn2IAA0jQtDMD

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Response to LiberalElite (Original post)

Wed Dec 25, 2013, 09:28 AM

40. The whole situation is sad. I am sure that the

parents are carrying a boat load of guilt for agreeing for what should have been a simple operation that went terribly wrong. In pictures of the girl, it appeared that she may have been quite overweight which makes me wonder if a weight issue might have contributed to what happened. It will be twice as tragic if, due to prolonging the inevitable, an autopsy is not able to accurately determine what went wrong.

Guilt is a difficult basis for prolonging a life that is not viable. I am surprised that she has not been moved to a long term facility if there is in fact nothing more that the hospital can do for her.

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Response to avebury (Reply #40)

Fri Dec 27, 2013, 08:37 AM

46. At some point

I would think Medicaid (earlier posts state this is the families insurance) will withdraw payments to the hospital for her care since it appears she is dead and there is nothing that can be medically done for her. Does anyone know what went wrong with the procedure she had and if it was the hospital's fault?

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