Death and Brain Death

Also see: Organ Donation and Organ Transplantation


“Are Transplant Doctors Causing Brain Death?”
(National Review — September 30, 2022)
New and highly problematic means of obtaining organs is pushing the boundaries of the “dead donor rule.”
But there are two approaches to declaring death.  One is death by neurological criteria, commonly known as “brain death,” and death by cardiopulmonary criteria, sometimes called “heart death.”

“Jahi McMath – False Positive Diagnosis of Brain Death Charged”
(Medical Futility Blog — November 27, 2021)
Jahi McMath was a 13-year-old girl who was declared brain dead on December 12, 2013 after undergoing surgery in California….A death certificate was issued but her mother fought a legal battle and was able to move her daughter to a New Jersey hospital.
There she underwent aspects of puberty and developed intermittent responsiveness to commands.  She lived until June 18, 2018.
Her case represents the first indirect confirmation of the reality and clinical relevance of global ischemic penumbra, hypothesized in 1999 as a generally unacknowledged and possibly common brain death mimic.

“‘Miracle’ Boy, 13, Who Was Apparently Brain Dead Wakes After Parents Sign Organ Donation Papers”
(People Magazine — May 6, 2018)
Trenton McKinley defied all the odds.  After the 13-year-old boy was severely injured in a dune buggy accident, his parents made the difficult decision to donate his organs following  days of him being apparently brain dead, according to Fox 10.  But, after the papers were signed, he miraculously regained consciousness.
More on Death & Brain Death

“Jahi McMath, girl declared brain dead three years ago, might still be technically alive, judge says”
(Los Angeles Times — September 7, 2017)
Alameda County Judge Stephen Pulido ruled Tuesday that it’s up to a jury to determine whether Jahi McMath is alive…[In 2013], after a judge ruled that California doctors could remove the girl from life support, her mother took Jahi to New Jersey, the only U.S. state that accommodates religions that do not recognize brain death.  She is on life support in a New Jersey apartment, where she receives medical care.

“Alameda County jury will decide if Jahi McMath is alive”
(SFGate — September 7, 2017)
The family has recorded dozens of videos showing Jahi seemingly responding to commands to raise her right hand or kick her foot, according to court records….
[Dr. Alan] Shewmon also wrote in his declaration that Jahi’s MRI showed a “surprising extent of relatively preserved brain tissue.”

“Are ‘brain dead’ patients really dead?”
(BioEdge — September 2, 2017)
A new article in the Journal of Medical Ethics challenges conventional accounts of human death, and calls for a “new consensus” on the ethics of vital organ transplantation.

“Is Jahi McMath Alive?”
(National Review — July 10, 2017)
Jahi McMath suffered catastrophic complications from throat surgery in December of 2013 — 3/1/2 years ago.

She was soon declared to be brain dead, and Oakland Children’s Hospital informed her mother, Nailah Winkfield, that life support would be terminated.  Winkfield sued, but after an independent medical examination, the judge ruled that Jahi was deceased and allowed a death certificate to be issued….She was moved to New Jersey, where she remains today.

A judge has permitted Winkfield to demonstrate that the death declaration was erroneous. Important evidence in that process was just filed in the penalty of perjury declaration of an internationally respected neurologist, who states that Jahi’s condition is no longer consistent with a brain death determination.