"Religion, science, common sense and logic do not mix."
Somewhere in an Oakland hospital lies a 13 year old girl, and she is not being kept alive by the grace of God; her body is breathing merely because a machine forces it to do so. "Chief of child neurology and director of the Center for Brain and Behavior at Stanford, Dr. Paul Graham Fisher, was appointed to examine the extent of Jahi's brain damage. In his test results taken Monday night, he says she has no response to facial pain, no gag reflexes, no reflexes in her arms or legs, and a complete absence of brain stem and cerebral function."
"What part of dead are they not understanding?"
The reactions to the case of Jahi McMath have been swift and passionate, far and wide on both sides. I've seen them as close as my own social media circle (see quotes above and below) and far as the other side of the world. I've heard from the logical and emotional both;
"Wow, some of you are cold as ice. As a mother, I can only imagine the trauma involved in having to say such an unexpected goodbye to a child. The family is coming to terms with this in their own way. Leave them be."
I am not a parent. That doesn't immediately discount my own capability to feel both logical and emotional on this issue. In fact, there aren't enough words in the dictionary to get into all of the issues surrounding this case. We can begin with separating God and science.
Chief of Pediatrics David Durand, MD: "As medical professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that we don't create hope where there is none. When one's brain ceases to function, it never restarts."
Pastor Cheryl Ward - "we believe that God is the one who has the final answer, plug pulled and all, that God is the one who gives the final 'yes' and the final 'no' to what happens in Jahi's life."
It takes a miracle not only for a brain to come back from death, but also for a body to die when hooked to a machine designed to keep it alive. A judge has ruled that the hospital keep the girl alive through the Christmas holiday, but that as of December 30th, they are within rights to disconnect her, or the family may move her to another facility.
"Attorney Christopher Dolan said the family has identified one Bay Area facility that appears willing to provide long-term care for McMath, who was declared brain-dead after complications from tonsil surgery. Dolan declined to name the facility. 'They told us there is a bed, they care for children like her all the time," Dolan said. "They believe they can provide her with care and support and treat her as if she's a living person.' "
Except... she's not.
Following Ward's logic, if it were to be in God's hands, she should never have been put on the machines to begin with. If we're to bring God into the equation, His decision was made and actions were incited to fight against that. If it is going to be left to a higher entity, remove the machines and let it be as they declare - let God give the final 'yes' or the final 'no.'
I have yet to see any fault being assigned, but no doubt there will be a lawsuit pending against the hospital. I'm not certain why the doctors felt it was a good idea for a young girl to undergo surgery when there seem to have been multiple issues to overcome and an obvious weight issue. I'm also unsure why the family demands media coverage but ties the hands of the professionals from addressing to the public certain medical information that could provide a rounder picture.
I like how the mom compared her daughter to being on death row, and how her mom complained that the doctor told her so bluntly that she is D-E-A-D - says one on my Facebook.
Human nature (especially via media outlets, particularly social media) is to consistently attack and mock the weakest among us. I have yet to see one article mocking (or even naming) the doctor who fucked up this surgery, and none of the articles are taking the hospital to task either. Exposing and suing the hospital won't bring the child back, but rolling over afterwards is impossible for mothers. It is just freaking impossible. Do not go quietly. - argues another.
No matter my love for my wife or my mother, if their brain died then so have they and the machines go off. People only keep them on to make themselves not have to grieve and it pisses me off - a statement from a child psychologist.
I am not in this situation, I am like most simply an outsider looking in. I only know that there is a little girl somewhere who is, by all definitions, gone. Not sure if I believe in purgatory, but if I were a parent I believe I'd need a definitive line of faith. I couldn't imagine keeping my child alive for my own sake. I asked my husband a few days ago, as we've never filled out our directives, if he would want to be kept in this situation. I knew the answer before he said it, and my heart wrenched at the thought of having to say "let him go." but Jahi doesn't get that option.
It isn't ever easy to let go, but there's a fine line of the needs of others and those of ourselves. The hardest thing to do is figuring out on which side of it to be.
- Click here to read an open letter from Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield