Terry Schiavo died in 2005 after her family lost a court case to Terry’s husband, Michael, allowing doctors to remove the feeding tube that had been in place to keep Schiavo alive for more than ten years. Michael Schiavo persisted that his wife would not wish to live her life in a vegetative state, ultimately culminating in the court battle he eventually won in 2005. Terry Schiavo died two weeks after her feeding tube was removed.
Now, another case in the United States has rekindled the debate about prolonging life when a patient has been declared brain dead and doctors say that there is no chance for recovery.
Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl who underwent surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids because of pediatric sleep apnea last month, has caused the controversy to reign again in the media because of the medical consensus that life support should be ended in her case, according to CNN.
McMath’s current state came as a shock to her family after she woke up after her surgery normally. Several days into her recovery, however, Jahi suddenly began losing blood in large amounts in the Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital Oakland. She was later declared brain dead after going into cardiac arrest upon the massive blood loss.
Jahi McMath’s family is now at the center of the refueled debate, having been publicly supported by Terry Schiavo’s family and their foundation, Terry Shiavo Life & Hope Network. The Network is an organization Schiavo’s family founded to raise awareness about the true definition of “brain dead.”
Jahi McMath’s family recently requested that their daughter be moved to a facility in New York willing to take the young girl, but were allegedly refused by the Oakland hospital. Jahi’s family also says that the hospital has been starving Jahi through disuse of a feeding tube, though Children’s Hospital Oakland and their spokesman, Sam Singer, have denied these allegations.
A judge presiding over Jahi’s case denied the family’s request on Tuesday to force the hospital to take additional measures to save Jahi’s life, including the insertion of a feeding tube. Even further, the judge asserted that the hospital be allowed to disconnect life support for Jahi at 5 p.m. (8 p.m. ET) on Monday evening. The judge later moved the deadline to the same time on January 7.
Jahi McMath’s family has received national media coverage and support for Jahi, including public support from Terry Schiavo’s family. The Terry Schiavo Network recently posted a statement on their website supporting the family’s wish to prolong Jahi’s life.
“Together with our team of experts, Terri’s Network believes Jahi’s case is representative of a very deep problem within the U.S. healthcare system — particularly those issues surrounding the deaths of patients within the confines of hospital corporations, which have a vested financial interest in discontinuing life,” the site says.
Main image courtesy CNN via YouTube.