You’ve likely seen the news reports about 13-year-old Jahi McMath. She’s the young lady who went into Children’s Hospital of Oakland for a routine tonsillectomy and other procedures to deal with sleep apnea. Things didn’t go well post-surgery and Jahi has been unconscious since.
What the Hospital Says
The hospital did their tests and came back and said little Jahi is brain dead. This would be heart-wrenching news for any parent to receive. However, the family says Jahi is responding when her mother speaks to her and they doubt this diagnosis. How can a person with no brain activity have a response? And yes, we can argue that the family is simply seeing what they want, but we can also argue that perhaps they are seeing something.
“We need to be able to talk to the other facility to understand what it is they are capable of doing,” Cynthia Chiarappa, hospital spokesperson, said. “This is not transferring an individual in a vegetative state, but a dead body.”
What the Family Wants
The family does not want life support terminated. They don’t agree with the hospital that it is time to do this. Since the hospital is insisting that life support will not continue, the family now wants to move Jahi to a new facility that will keep her on life support. The hospital, however, has made some pretty strong statements against this possibility including that they won’t do a medical procedure on a “dead body”. (more on this in a minute)
“It’s wrong for someone who made mistakes on your child to just call the coroner … and not respect the family’s feeling or rights,” Sandra Chatman, Jahi’s grandmother and a registered nurse said. “I know Jahi suffered, and it tears me up.”
What the Court Says
At first, the court said the hospital could remove life support at 5 p.m. on December 30th, 2013. However, that date has been extended for a week thanks to a last minute ruling today. She now has until January 7th at 5 p.m. for something to change.
No Amount of Prayer
While Jahi’s family may or may not get their miracle, the gist of the problem is that that the hospital administrators obviously don’t believe in the power of prayer or in a family’s right to choose what is best for their own child.
“No amount of prayer, no amount of hope, no amount of any type of medical procedure will bring her back,” hospital spokesman, Singer, said. “The medical situation here in this case is that Jahi McMath died several weeks ago.”
Mr. Singer, I am sorry, but I have seen amazing miracles throughout my life. While they don’t occur often and one may or may not occur in this case to just rule it out seems very harsh and extremely intolerant of this family’s beliefs. In addition, the hospital has stated that if Jahi is transported that it will need a statement of release from the coroner. Seriously?
While it is true that an imaging test shows no blood flow and no electrical activity, I still believe this issue comes back to whether or not we value each and every life. Jahi’s family should have the right to make this decision for their daughter. If she doesn’t survive long-term, at least they will know they did everything in their power to try to save her.
In a released statement, the family said:
“We wish to acknowledge that Jahi’s case, and our stance regarding her right to life, and her mother’s right to make decisions regarding her child, has stirred a vibrant, sometimes polarizing, national debate. This was never our intention,” the family’s statement said. “We have our strong religious convictions and set of beliefs and we believe that, in this country, a parent has the right to make decisions concerning the existence of their child: not a doctor who looks only at lines on a paper, or reads the cold black and white words on a law that says ‘brain dead’ and definitely not a doctor who runs the facility that caused the brain death in the first place.”
This author believes there are several reasons the hospital could be taking such a hard stance in this case:
- The daily cost of keeping Jahi on life support is likely high. Insurance may not cover it after a certain amount of time and since the problem occurred after a surgery performed at the hospital, they are liable for this expense.
- Most of her organs are likely viable. It is a harsh reality, but if they see Jahi as a dead body, then they likely see her unused organs as a waste that could be used for others.
- Were she to recover by some miracle, even though the hospital says no amount of prayer can achieve this, the cost of her long-term care would likely soar into the millions.
Get the idea that the bottom line is more about money and less about the feelings of this family? Me, too. The one statement above I completely agree with is the one from the family. Jahi’s mother has a right to make this decision for her and not this cold-hearted, uncaring hospital.
If you agree with me, let’s rally behind the McMath family. Phone the hospital, post on social media about this, post on the hospital’s FB wall, e-mail news channels, radio and anyone else you can think of. Only by voicing our opinions can we create change. I believe the McMath family deserves to make this decision. They’ve raised the funds to be able to afford the transportation of their daughter to another facility. Let’s start the new year by doing something for the world, make it a tiny bit better place, give this family the hope they seek even if only for a short time. And most important of all, lift the McMath’s and little Jahi in your prayers tonight.