I first noticed this story because I have a daughter close to Jahi's age, and was shocked that a routine surgery could be botched so badly and the hospital handle the aftermath so insensitively. In short: sorry lady, we killed your kid, we're yanking the plug, now sign here and stand back.

If you're not familiar with the details: three weeks ago, 13-year-old Jahi McMath went into an Oakland hospital for tonsil surgery. Afterward, she was talking with her family in the recovery room when she started spitting up blood. Jahi ended up connected to a ventilator and was declared brain-dead. (This was later confirmed by several physicians, including a court-appointed Stanford neurologist.)

The hospital lawyered up and never offered a clear explanation of what went wrong. The California Department of Public Health is investigating the hospital's treatment of Jahi. Meanwhile, the legal battle to disconnect Jahi from the ventilator rages on. A court declared Jahi to be brain-dead and imposed (and extended) a deadline for disconnecting her.

Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield, is hoping for a miracle. She understands Jahi's brain has been irreversibly destroyed. She believes that with faith and prayer, God "will spark her brain awake." She's trying to get Jahi moved to a nursing home while she waits. She may have succeeded and is getting help from the organization started by the family of Terri Schiavo.

What an absolutely horrific situation, especially for young Jahi. But also for Nailah Winkfield, who obviously loves her daughter too much to let her go, and is clinging tightly to the false hope of religion and what is essentially Jahi's corpse, trapped in a living death.

Tags: Jahi, McMath, Schiavo, Terri, life, support

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Maybe I am cold hearted...
My cousin was pronounced DOA after a three wheeler accident. He was on life supports while his parents were consoled by a pastor in preparation to sign paperwork to donate his organs. He was 14. The monitors picked up a single brain wave during that ill-fated delay. Long story short, after six months in a coma and extensive physical rehab he made a remarkable recovery, physically. Oh, you can tell from looking at his disfigured head, that it has been bashed in and he walks with a limp. But his body is pretty normal. Unfortunately, his brain is not. He gained enough function to be 'not disabled enough' for institutionalizing. Unless you count jail. He has been in and out of jail many many times for violent crimes. Bottom line-death would have been merciful - for him, his mother, and his victims.

Maybe he would have been a degenerate anyway... Who knows?

That's quite a story. I think if a person is in a coma there's an ethical obligation to provide care, since coma patients sometimes recover after months or (in rare cases) even years. From what I'm told-- my wife is a doctor-- it's not uncommon for recovered coma patients to have permanent neurological damage and reduced functioning. The Hollywood depiction of coma patients waking up years later in perfect health is essentially a fantasy.

In Jahi's case, there is no coma. The cells of her cerebrum and brain stem have died; her brain no longer functions at all, not even for respiration. As heartbreaking as it is, she's dead, and there's no treatment for that.

Maybe he would have been a degenerate anyway... Who knows?

Let's assume the brain damage made him a degenerate. Given the choice, would you rather be degenerately alive or wholesomely dead? I'm not sure. I guess it would depend on what sort of degenerate I would end up as. If I were a non-violent degenerate, like a car thief or a Sarah Palin, then I'd want to live.

@Sheri S

Another interesting, but sad case.  Maybe a doctor would be able to tell you with a fair degree of accuracy if this person ever would have been able to function well in society if it hadn't been for the accident, the answer wouldn't change much.

I wouldn't know enough about this situation to make a call on what should happen with this person, and I would certainly be under qualified to do so.  However, I think anyone would agree  that someone in this position clearly needs help, jail may be necessary depending on the severity of the offences, but isn't really the kind of help needed.  I think most mental health professional would agree that in cases of the mentally ill in the legal system, if jail can be avoided a treatment facility would be much more favourable for reducing chances of repeat offences or escalation of the mental issues.

I wouldn't like to put a value on someone life, But under extreme circumstances, I will happily put a value on someone's freedom.  If someone is endangering other people, they should probably have their freedoms restricted, perhaps be institutionalised until such times as they can move to some kind of supported living.  Some people will always need help in life, including keeping on the correct side of the law.  But many of these people really can do so if they get the help they need. 

The religious crackpots are coming out in force.

Fox "News" host and ordained pastor Mike Huckabee admitted ignorance of Jahi McMath's condition in medical terms (the irreversible death of her brain tissue) but compared disconnecting her respirator to Nazi death camps and forced abortions in China. He encouraged her family to continue fighting any attempts to remove her respirator and ignore doctors who said she died several weeks ago.

This is going to make the Terri Schiavo case look tame in comparison, because nobody in Jahi McMath's family is reasonable and fighting to disconnect her, and because Jahi's body is relatively young and strong.

They'll get a fund started, the religious crackpots will empty their pockets, and Jahi's corpse will become a shrine to religious madness. It'll go on for however many years that medical science can keep a heart beating with a respirator and a feeding tube.

This is a sad story.  you would really wonder how did she die in a routine tonsil surgery?  I hope the mother gets the answers she deserves

This girls mother clearly needs counselling to help her deal with this, She may never fully come to terms with it, but at some point she will have to come to the realisation that her little girl has died.

I have no Idea what the mother would be going through, but I could never blame here for wanting to believe that her daughter may wake up.  I am not religious, but if I was in her position, I may still hold out hope that she would wake up.  We have all heard the story's of people coming back against the odds, but that's really what it is, odds.  You could read about every person who won the lottery, it happens all the time, but that doesn't change your odds of winning the lottery.  I don't want to reduce a child's life to a simple analogy, and its a sad fact, but that poor little girl is dead.

People have beliefs, they are entitled to them, and I'm sure there is a place for spiritual guidance for these believers when dealing with hard times like this.  However, as far as medical concerns go, If an outside, independent doctor is saying "no chance of recovering" you take their word over a priest.  Offering false hope in the face of medical evidence doesn't sound like something that 'jesus would do'

My heart goes out to the family, I hope they can get closer to a state of acceptance as soon as possible.

However, as far as medical concerns go, If an outside, independent doctor is saying "no chance of recovering" you take their word over a priest. 


If the hospital had removed and destroyed Jahi's brain, there would be no room for doubt in her mother's mind that her daughter had died. Would she linger over Jahi's body, fighting to keep the respirator connected, praying to God and hoping a new brain will grow back again? Would political and religious commentators prod Jahi's mother to ignore the advice of medical doctors who tell her this is impossible? I doubt it.

What happened is that the hospital essentially destroyed Jahi's brain without removing it: whole brain-death. Google 'tissue necrosis' and look at the images that come up. The most one can hope for in a situation like this is misdiagnosis: a mix-up between patients in the records room. But the death of Jahi's brain has been confirmed repeatedly by multiple tests and doctors. She's not going to grow back a new brain, not unless God really does intervene with magical powers.

Offering false hope in the face of medical evidence doesn't sound like something that 'jesus would do'.

That's the heart of the matter right there. False hope is no hope. False comfort is no comfort. It's awful to see Jahi's mother become a victim twice; first to what was likely the medical negligence of the hospital, and then to the falsehood of religious faith.


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