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Saturday, February 22, 2014

An update on Jahi McMath's condition

I have been following the situation of Jahi McMath introduced in my post OUTRAGEOUS of a few weeks ago; I have included three articles somewhat abridged to make them shorter without losing the meaning in each.  

The first article gives a history of the plight of Jahi and introduces a letter recently written by Jahi’s mother to inform people who are interested in knowing Jahi’s present condition.  The second article talks about the case of an Ohio truck driver who suffered a massive heart attack and was in a state of legal death for 45 minutes in the hospital when he nonetheless woke up and is now in a normal healthy state.  The 3rd article is written by a medical doctor who believes in brain death occurring after 5 minutes of the brain not receiving oxygen.

If the doctor were to read and accept the truth of the Ohio man coming back to life after being legally dead for 45 minutes, he might be less prone to talk about a person like Jahi as a dead person having no chance to recover.  But I am doubtful that a doctor such as the author of the 3rd article could ever take the “miracle”, talked about in the second article, seriously because this doctor, I believe, is without a belief in God and has a faith only in science.

In the following articles some phrases reiterating unnecessarily the belief that Jahi is a dead person were deleted.  In addition some paragraphs were deleted to make the articles shorter without the article losing its message.  (PHM)

Article 1: Jahi McMath 'much better,' her mother says

More than six weeks after her daughter was moved from Children's Hospital, Oakland to an undisclosed location, the mother of Jahi McMath broke her silence in a letter released Wednesday February 19, 2014 on Twitter. The 13-year-old Oakland girl was declared brain-dead Dec. 12 after she developed complications following a Dec. 9 tonsil, nose and throat surgery for sleep apnea and went into cardiac arrest. The case drew international attention as the family battled with hospital officials for weeks and then went to court, seeking to keep the girl on a ventilator and to have breathing and feeding tubes surgically inserted.

Weeks of negotiations and courtroom battles between the family's attorney and hospital officials finally yielded a deal to move the girl from the hospital. On Jan. 5, she was taken to an undisclosed out-of-state facility, where her family said she had remained on a ventilator. Once Jahi was moved on Jan. 5, her family went silent. The letter, released by Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, through his Twitter account, thanks those who supported the family through donations and prayer during their ordeal:

"So many people have asked how we are doing and if Jahi is alive," wrote Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield. "This has and continues to be an unbelievably difficult time for me as a mother and for us as a family. "However, I have not been alone. I have been surrounded by the love, support and prayers of so many kind people. Despite what people say about my daughter being dead and how I must be ignorant not to get that, I can tell you that she is much better physically since she has left Children's Hospital and I see changes that give me hope." 

For more detail, contact Kristin J. Bender at
Oakland Tribune  02/19/2014 04:55:55 PM PST OAKLAND  

Article 2: Heaven and Back? Man Says He ‘Started Walking Toward the Light’
Posted on: 10:41 pm, February 17, 2014, by Suzanne Stratford, updated on: 10:30pm, February 17, 2014

BEACHWOOD, Ohio– A Northeast Ohio man is sharing an amazing near-death experience.

Brian Miller first suffered a massive heart attack involving his main artery, but seemed to be doing well at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, until the next night when his heart went into a deadly arrhythmia called Ventricular Fibrillation.

“His heart is just quivering in there. It’s not able to pump. It’s not doing anything,” said Emily Bishop, Brian’s ICU nurse.  V-fib is almost always fatal and can kill a person within minutes if left untreated. The ICU team feverishly worked on Brian, but Emily says he remained basically dead for nearly 45 minutes; then suddenly his heart just started beating normally again.

Brian was alive and miraculously had not suffered any brain damage or loss of any bodily functions.  He said that’s because he saw the light and was walking toward heaven before being told by a loved one he had to go back.

Article 3:  Analyzing the Jahi McMath case
Christopher Johnson, MD February 11,2014
The recent tragedy of Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old girl who died following complications of tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, has focused many people on the question of brain death.  As many of you know, her family does not believe she is dead, although multiple physicians have documented she is and the county medical examiner’s office (the coroner) has issued a death certificate. She has been transferred from Oakland to a facility in New York.
So what is brain death? It means no function at the level of the brain stem or above. Function stops where the spinal cord joins the base of the brain. 
Not all cultural traditions recognize brain death as real if the heart is still beating. I think there is more going on in this case than we know. Why this case became so adversarial is probably a complicated issue.  At the very least, clearly the hospital and doctors failed to establish a relationship of trust with the family.
Regarding the child’s cause of death, I’d lay odds she had sudden bleeding from the tonsilar bed, the tissues under where the tonsils were. This is a well-known complication after tonsillectomy if the clots fall off. After that I think she probably lost her airway, either from obstruction from blood clots or some other reason. 
I assume she went 4-5 minutes without an adequate airway, leading to brain damage and subsequent brain death. This is a common progression after anoxic brain injury — lack of oxygen — from any cause.
One other thing I’m occasionally asked: Has anyone who was declared brain dead ever been found later not to be dead? I am unaware of any cases of this. If you hear of such things you need to understand that a patient in a deep coma, totally unresponsive to the world, is not dead. They still have the reflexes I described above intact. Once in a while such a person awakens.
Christopher Johnson is a pediatric intensive care physician and author.