Jahi McMath – What is Compassionate and Caring?

jahi mcmathI wrote about the Jahi McMath case just a short time ago and, sadly, events are following the lines that I predicted. I’ve talked to a number of people about the case and I read many comments. My plan today isn’t to reiterate my original position, it hasn’t changed, but to examine the nature of who is compassionate and caring in this battle and who is a heartless monster.

A quick recap. McMath went in for a tonsillectomy to relieve sleep apnea and in post-operation began to bleed. The bleeding proved uncontrollable and she died. She was connected to a respirator and continues on in that condition despite that fact that she has been ruled brain-dead by a number of physicians.

The hospital told the family they would be removing life-support about a week after McMath was declared dead. The family fought this and got a stay from a judge. The family has since been searching for a facility that will provide long-term care for the corpse. This is what I suspected would happen.

Now to the point of my blog. When I wrote a post that the hospital should discontinue life-support I got a number of negative replies. The hospital is receiving venomous attacks for the death and for their policy of stopping life-support. In comment sections in general I’ve seen one nasty attack after the next against people who suggest that life-support be halted. The hospital is now refusing to put feeding tubes into the corpse which is complicating the transfer of the corpse to a long-term facility. People don’t much like that either, they think the hospital should pay for everything and do everything.

Whenever I talk about this situation I feel like I have to be clear that I’m not a heartless, uncaring wretch. I always preface my arguments with the comments like “it’s a horrible tragedy but ….”

Well, I’ve had enough. The hospital is the good guy here. I’m the good guy. The people who are suggesting the family acknowledge events and move on are the good guys!

The bad guys are the ones who are encouraging the family to visit a corpse every day for the rest of their lives. The bad guys are the ones who write supportive comments to the family. McMath is dead. If the family cannot accept that they will spend the rest of their lives in a horrible lie. They will spend every dollar they make at the “caring” facility that takes the girl. The facility knows the girl is dead, they just want to steal the family money. That’s evil.

I realize I’m coming across as heartless here but I don’t care. Me, the hospital, and those like us are the ones who offer the family a real future. We’re the ones who actually care. The truth may hurt; but lies cause far more damage.

If someone is close to the McMath family and really, truly cares about them; tell them the truth. Encourage them to move on. Life is for the living.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Jahi McMath Tonsillectomy – Making Things Worse

jahi mcmathThere’s a tragic story in the news about a young teenager from California who went in for a tonsillectomy to relieve her sleep apnea and died after complications from the surgery. A perusal of the Wikipedia article suggests that about 1 in 15,000 surgeries of this nature result in mortality.

After the surgery she started to bleed and despite transfusions and attempts to stop the bleeding she eventually died. She is currently on life support and receiving intravenous fluids. A pair of doctors not affiliated with the hospital declared Jahi McMath dead and the hospital wants to remove the machinery but the parents went to court to prevent such a move.

They want an independent doctor to examine the girl and a judge agreed. So, for now, McMath will remain on life support. It is almost certain that the independent doctor will confirm that she is dead at which point the family will have to make a decision.

It is not uncommon for hospitals to keep people on life support for a few days to allow the family to accept the tragedy. McMath was declared dead on December 12 and the hospital informed the family this past Thursday, Dec 19, that they wished to remove life support.

The judge in question issued a statement suggesting that the restraining order was applied to give the family time to gain peace of mind and hoped the situation would be resolved by Christmas.

I think everyone would agree the situation is tragic. That everyone would understand the hospital can’t keep McMath on life support indefinitely, particularly as the insurance will not pay for it. I think everyone understands the family’s grief and unwillingness to accept the death.

I’ve never been in this situation but I suspect a number of my readers have had to make such a decision for a family member.

In this case I suspect the family will file a lawsuit and attempt to keep McMath on life support even after the next doctor comes to the same conclusion. I think this would be a terrible mistake. They would then spend the next fifteen years of their life coming to visit the corpse of their daughter and eventually suffer the same grief again when life support was finally removed. See the Terri Schiavo case.

They will end up paying lawyers a lot of money and unless some significant malpractice issue comes up they will bankrupt themselves for nothing.

So, what’s the point of my blog? Be prepared. Make your wishes known. Appoint someone you trust to make the decision for you. Family members who suffer such a loss will not always make good decisions. As bad as a situation might be, poor decisions can make it worse.

As for me? No life support. No heroic measures. No life prolonging measures.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne