How Long Should Compassionate Care Continue in a Brain-Dead Patient?

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How long should compassionate care continue in a case of a brain-dead patient? Does the definition of ‘death’ need to be reconsidered? Who should decide when treatment should stop on a loved one? All these questions were brought up in the recent case of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl, who underwent surgery at Children’s Hospital Oakland, on December 9th. The procedure was meant to cure her case of sleep apnea, by having a routine tonsillectomy as well as clear some tissue from her nose and throat. However, due to complications she went into cardiac arrest, and was placed on a ventilator. On December 12th, she was deemed “brain-dead” by several neurologist, and was to be removed from the ventilator. With her daughter’s heart still beating, the mother believes her daughter is still alive, and filed a lawsuit against the hospital, to keep her daughter on the ventilator. The court declared Jahi to be brain-dead, but gave the mother until January 5th to find a new long term care facility, because Children’s Hospital in Oakland refused to continue providing care, on the grounds that it is unethical to operate or provide care to someone who is deceased. The court allowed Jahi’s body to be released to her mother, after issuing a death certificate. The mother had arranged for an emergency team to transfer Jahi to an undisclosed hospital who has stated it will continue to provide care. Certainly the definition of death needs to be addressed. There are currently two standard medical/legal definitions of death. The first being cardiopulmonary death, which is the irreversible loss of function in the heart and lungs. The second being brain-death, which is the irreversible cessation of all brain functions. This can be a difficult diagnosis f... ... middle of paper ... ... that the whole brain death standard is a profound biological marker that should indicate, as it always does, that medical support should be withdrawn. To do otherwise is to no longer care for a patient, but to provide false hope for the family and in effect make them the patient. There are more effective ways to show our compassion and support. Works Cited • • • • • •

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