Skip to comments.One in five ‘brain dead’ patients still alive, claims lawsuit
Posted on 01/03/2014 6:34:06 PM PST by Marie
At least one in five patients declared brain dead and approved as organ donors by one organ donation organization, are in fact still alive and are being killed by the removal of vital organs, a lawsuit filed last week in Manhattan alleges. The suit outlines the ghoulish worst-case scenario, one that was widely dismissed as scaremongering in the early days of the development of organ transplant technology, but which is getting a second hearing amidst growing concerns that coercion and abuse are becoming increasingly common in the highly lucrative transplant business.
Patrick McMahon, a nurse practitioner and Air Force combat veteran, launched the suit in New York alleging that a major organ donation group is using a quota system for obtaining viable organs. He says it is applying pressure on families and doctors to declare patients dead who are, in fact, still alive and could recover.
The New York Organ Donor Network, McMahon says, even hires coaches to help obtain consent notes.These coaches, the suit contends, are nothing more than sales and marketing experts who teach transplant coordinators to use high-pressure psychological tactics to play on the emotions of vulnerable family members. The suit alleges that employees who failed to make their quotas were fired.
Youre not there for grief counseling, he told the Daily Mail, youre there to get organs. Its all about salesand thats pretty much a direct quote from the organization. Counselors are required to get a 30 per cent consent rate from families." The top counselors get a Christmas bonus, he added.
McMahons suit cites one case in which a 19-year-old car crash victim was struggling to breathe and showing signs of brain activity, but doctors signed off on the donation.
(Excerpt) Read more at lifesitenews.com ...
When I was born, I had massive oxygen deprivation. I was completely unresponsive to all stimulation and pain. Completely devoid of reflexes. My heart did beat and I was breathing on my own. It took a few days, but I did eventually swallow with stimulation. (At first, I couldn't even choke.) A nurse stuck a needle deep into my heel and I didn't even flinch. There was nothing.
The doctors all said that I was a 'vegetable' and that I'd never be able to come close to functioning on a normal level. they patted my mother's arm and reassured her that she 'could always have other children.'
My mother insisted that they give me to her. They resisted even letting her see me at first and insisted that I needed to be in an institution. When she insisted on taking me home, they balked. They said that I wouldn't survive without special care in an institutional setting.
Well, my mom won. For three months I was 'a limp rag'. She would drip milk into my mouth and stroke my throat to stimulate the swallow reflex.
All day long, all she did was massage me, work my limbs, and talk to me. Constant stimulation.
At three months old, I began to respond. After that, I caught up fast. By one year old, I was making all the milestones just as any other child.
I am angry at the attitude here on FR toward Jahi McMath's situation.
Some people here seem to believe that doctors are infallible gods who could never make a mistake. Others believe that 'brain death' means that the girl's brain is rotting in her skull.
Brain death means that there's bad damage to either the higher brain functions or the brain stem (depending on that state's legal perimeters). It does not mean that the brain is actually dead and rotting. It's also for people to understand that there is NO standard medical consensus for the definition and it can vary from location to location.
Do I think that Jahi will recover?
I don't have any idea. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd think that she'd have terrible deficit if she were to recover at all. At this point, the hospital has starved her and denied her medical care for three straight weeks that may have made a positive impact. So who the hell knows.
Jahi's lawyer says that he has a video of her responding to her mother. That's good enough for me. If she's responding at all, she's doing better than I was.
But when was the right removed from parents and family to make the ultimate life or death decisions in these situations? When did these decisions go to hospital administrators?
Just ten years ago, a person had to have a DNR to have life support removed. If there was no DNR, the family could decide on their behalf if they had authority. If a person didn't have one, it was assumed that they wanted heroic measures and these were taken.
Now the power is taken from husbands, wives, parents, and adult children.
Where there is a heartbeat, there *is* hope. We try. It isn't always going to work out and we all have to die, but it is out duty to fight for life.
The people making these decisions do NOT always have the patient's best interests at heart. Many are pessimists.
I have the ultimate respect for physicians and I believe that most of them are good people who are there for the right reasons. But I also know enough doctors to know that most get pretty beaten down and jaded over time.
It is the family's job to play the part of the optimist and to do their best to push forward.
Please stand with life. There was no hope for me and I'm happily married with two adult children. My first grandchild is due any minute.
No. I wasn't declared 'brain dead' (there was no such diagnosis back then). But I was declared vegetative. I made a 100% recovery.
Never stop fighting for life. Win or lose, the fight is worthy.
Wow. That’s quite a story.
Thanks for that.
in Jahi's case the doctors and hospital are doing nothing more than attempting to drastically reduce their financial liability.
Thank you for your support. It was painful to write.
You and I appear to be one of the few left on FR. Check out this thread:
Thanks for sharing your remarkable story.
My mother is 100 years old and living in an assisted lilving facility. We hired a private nurse to advise us throug the rehab facility whe was in when she broke her leg, but now this nurse keeps pushing us to sign a POLST and to put her in hospice. I don’t think she needs hospice. She’s just old. I won’t sign.
God bless you Marie. I could not so elequently state my case recently.
This is one case, as rare as it is, that I vehemently disagree with the majority of my compadres here on FR.
i welcome the expected deluge of posts in disagreement but I stand firm on this one.
PS I imagine your mother was an amazing woman.
I do not think doctors are God or anything like it. But I also know that a body on a ventilator is NOT the same as a comatose patient breathing on their own.
Remove the ventilator and see how her body responds if death overtakes her then maybe her parents will finally accept it
My mother was a fantastic mom when I was young. Until she was disabled, she worked with the handicapped. She found that, intensive physical therapy in children could do miracles.
She was a fighter.
You don’t want to get me started on organ harvesting because I usually suggest doctor harvesting as an alternative (convicted murders withstanding).
Wow! Amazing! Thanks for sharing your story! And congratulations!
Christopher Reeve was on a vent. Stephen Hawkings is now on a vent and writing a book.
A *lot* of people go onto a vent while they heal.
Why is it so unreasonable to try to help this girl? For three weeks, she’s received no medical attention (other than the vent and dealing with her other - perfectly healthy - bodily functions) and NO food or nutrition.
What would the harm have been? If the doctors were right, then she’d be dying anyway and the parents could at least know that everything had been done.
Isn’t that how we’re supposed to treat children??
I just don’t understand why people are so opposed to helping this girl.
One comfort people have always had in grief is that, “We did everything possible.”
That’s how parents are supposed to act! Yet, so many *here* believe that the parents are being unreasonable.
If the doctors are right, then she’ll die anyway. What’s the harm in trying to save a child?
Wasn’t it reported that this girl suffered a cardiac arrest? If so, 90% do not survive cardiac arrest and of those who do, only about 2 % do not have medical issues afterwards in terms of memory and other organ issues. Does anyone have any info on the cardiac arrest report?
I am sure that it was painful to write. Congratulations on getting it out there for us to read. It is a bright spot in my day to know that there are courageous human beings who won’t give up when the odds and other people are all against them. Very encouraging.
Thank God you’re here. Thank you for sharing your amazing story.
So, her heart is beating. That means she had a shot of being in the 10%. (That’s been reduced thanks to lack of treatment.)
That leaves her with an 8% chance of having some issues later.
Nobody’s perfect. You can raise a perfectly healthy child and have ‘em wrap their brains around a pole while riding a bike. Just because you’re broken doesn’t mean life’s not worth living. (Otherwise the disabled would have the highest suicide rate. They do not.)
She had a 1-in-10 shot. That’s what her parents were trying to give her. That’s what parents should do.
everything was done. The parents are a heart break . Their daughter is gone and they have no way to deal with it except denial. If you have read about the case you know that this is not one doc or even two docs but a total of five docs three of whom were approved or picked by the family. All of the medical evaluation is the same.
Your examples are not pertinent in this situation since neither Reeve nor Hawking had been declared brain dead.
Sorry, can't help you. I usually disagree with almost everyone, and have little sympathy or empathy for most people, am completely immune to "It's for the Children", so I can't figure out how they think. I can, however, nearly always predict what they will do.
So you’re pro-choice?
The issue of when a person is truly dead is a very complex one made even more difficult with every advance in healthcare and technology.
This is made even more difficult by the stories one hears of someone thought to be beyond recovery waking up....the “miraculous recovery” that makes the evening news and is widely talked about. The reason that the incident is called a “miraculous recovery” is because they are so rare.
For every miracle there are dozens if not hundreds of bodies kept alive by machines for months and even years at the cost of a million dollars or more per year. The vast majority of these professional corpses eventually die from some complication, usually an infextion. The hard part is it is impossible to pick out the miracle from the machine dependent dead until they either wake up or die.
The fundamental issues in this case are twofold. One is moral and ethical....when is someone actually dead,who makes what care decisions and who decides if and when the plug is pulled.
The second issue is one of cost. The amount of money involved in maintaining a vegetative body is astronomical....a years worth of such care costs more than many people earn in a lifetime. WHO PAYS THE BILL?
If all the costs are born by the patient/family then the choices should be left to the family or their designated representative.
However......99.99% of ALL these cases represent a person who will have these costs paid for by society in some form, either direct write off as an uncollectible debt, via insurance which increases the costs to every policy holder, or the taxpayer ultimately foots the bill. In these cases the decision cannot and shpuld not be solely at the discretion of the family,because it’s REAL easy to spend millions of dollars of OTHER PEOPLES MONEY.
It’s the same issue faced with providing state of the art care for those who are so old and decrepit they will NEVER function as a normal human again yet they receive massive amounts of expensive care to postpone an inevitable death by a few weeks or months.
As long as people expect this care to be provided for them using OTHER PEOPLES MONEY then some process MUST be in place to justify the expense.
In the case in Oakland we are NOT hearing all the facts and in fact not even the truth. The family and attorneys are free to say whatever they like....to try this case in the court of public opinion. The hospital and doctors are bound by HIPAA, they cannot openly discuss this case as the family won’t waive
the privacy rules. Therefore we are NOT hearing an accurate accounting of this incident.
No, I’m Pro Life, and pro abstinence until marriage, and pro male duty to not pressure women before marriage.
This is not supposed to be US. We don’t give up. If something isn’t working we put our best and brightest on the problem and find a solution.
I agree with you that it’s horrible for the taxpayers or insurance policy holders to pay a ton of money to try to save one life (especially when the odds are so low), but WE don’t throw away our basic morality and values when things get tough.
We cling to those values while we dig until we find a better way.
THAT is the USA. That is the America that I know.
I had just graduated from Med Tech school when my husband and I moved back to our home town and I began work at the local hospital. The hospital has on staff one of the leading abortion doctors in the state and I was horrified to see young girls who were still in their teens having their second or third abortion. If the patients were admitted to the hospital, that meant that they were past 20 weeks and some had aborted babies that even in the 1980s could have easily survived outside the womb. I decided then that I would be on the side of life, whether it be that of a baby or an elderly person. God is the only one who should determine when a person passes from this world to the next.
I will never forget the example of Terry Schiavo. She was obviously responding to her parents and was not in any way on "life support". She was literally starved and dehydrated to death even though, like you, she had parents who were willing and able to care for her. The greed and selfishness of her so-called husband is responsible for what happened to her and one day he will have to answer for what he did to her.
Even before Obamacare was passed, I have always been against any government involvement in health care. Part of the reason is because I was still working in a hospital setting when the government first became involved in hospital reimbursement in the early 1980's and they were no better at it then than they are now. I also realized it was not only government involvement that was making health care more expensive, it was also the threat of litigation and the legal profession itself that were contributing to the increased cost, something that Obamacare deliberately did not address.
The biggest fear I have with Obamacare is that a group of government bureaucrats will be making these life and death decisions rather than the patient, the patient's family, and their doctors. They are the ones who are in a position to know the specifics of the case better than any government entity whose bottom line will always be whether or not the medical care the patient needs is "cost effective". Sarah Palin was exactly right when she called them "death panels" because letting these patients die will always be cheaper than providing them medical care.
Doctor disputes common acceptance of brain death
Pro-Life Perspective: Nat Hentoffs Reflections on Terri Schiavo, part 1
This is one frustration that I’ve had with conservatives. They want to fight ‘for the children’ while they’re in the womb, then they’re done.
I do TOTALLY agree with you that the whole ‘for the children’ trope has been overdone and abused to death.
But this is not an instance of using ‘for the children’ to infringe on the rights of the population.
This is ‘for a child’. This is for parental rights. This is pro-life.
The effects of this case bleed into your life. Your right to determine when and if the plug is pulled on your loved ones. Does a hospital have the right to overstep familial boundaries?
The hospital is winning. They’re killing the kid with starvation and a lack of medical care. They’ve got the media on their side. Even FReepers are on their side.
But where will you want everyone to be when you’re trying to defend your loved one? When you just want a transfer? When you want the hospital to let in another dr to perform basic procedures so that your loved one can be safely transferred?
This is another infringement on OUR rights as family.
My boss must be one of them.
Thank you for your story.
It was very hard for me to write because I knew this was the internet and I was going to get a lot of negative. I honestly didn’t know if I could handle that. I thank you for opening up here.
When my mother was working with handicapped children the parents of a boy (I think he was 13 when she started working with him) started having her come to their house to work with him one on one. I’d go with her to play with her daughter.
This kid was PVS from birth. My mom and his mother started working with him for hours every day. Working him through stretches and trying to force his body through the developmental steps.
When they started (and I’ve got to give HIS mom the most credit. She hit the project for eight straight hours a day) all he could do was moan and lay in his chair.
It took almost a year, but he was rolling over, crawling and said ‘mama’. He was MUCH more expressive and, the same as it happened with me, once he got the hang of it, progress exploded.
And then he got sick. He died very shortly after from medical malpractice. (Not getting into details on that)
I believe that it’s Denmark (I’ve got to look it up to be sure) that’s making the most progress in this area. They’re having fantastic improvement with brain damage with the constant stimulation technique. I do know that they’ve used it with children who’ve had half their brains removed due to surgery for epilepsy and these kids come out close to normal.
Thank you for posting that, and for being alive. I thank your wonderful mother too.
In November 2009 I was asked if I wanted feeding and breathing assistance for my wife after she had a massive “bleeder” stroke. I was told she would be severely disabled (and she is). I was offered the option of the assistance or to disconnect everything and “let nature take its course”. I took the assistance for her, and she is alive.
She lives with paralysis and a lot of pain. Some days she is angry at me for not letting her go. Most days she’s glad.
Back from the Dead: Resuscitation Expert Says End Is Reversible
“SPIEGEL: Basic first aid teaches us that the brain is very fragile. Three to five minutes after the heart stops, the brain incurs permanent damage due to lack of oxygen.”
“Parnia: This is a widely-held misconception, even among doctors. It's mostly based on research done in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. In those days, doctors concluded that brain cell death was inevitable in such a short time. Now we know that if treatment is correct, it really can take hours for brain cells to die. And only if all the treatments that we know today are not implemented, the damage can become apparent after as little as five minutes without blood flow. Part of the problem is that we all live in the past — patients, doctors, nurses and legislatures. We have preconceived ideas about death. For thousands of years, death was a clear, precise moment: The heart stopped beating, and that was it. Nothing could be done from then on. You either were alive or not. But since the arrival of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) more than 50 years ago, we know that this view is no longer correct. Death is not a fixed moment anymore. From a cellular perspective, it is a process that proceeds at various speeds in the different tissues of the body after the heart stops.”
“SPIEGEL: And that process is, in your words, fully reversible?”
“Parnia: Of course, it is of paramount importance to protect the brain. CPR as early as possible after cardiac arrest is essential. But the really dangerous period for brain is only after you restart the heart and get the person back to life. It is then that you start getting major brain damage. One of the reasons for this is that when you restart blood flow to the brain, which hasn't seen any blood for a while, the oxygen itself becomes toxic. The brain can become very swollen and inflamed and at the same time, blood flow to the brain drops to dangerously low levels. The brain also becomes perilously starved of oxygen and nutrients. Consequently, most brain damage after resuscitation occurs not within the first few minutes of death, but in the hours up to the first 72 hours after resuscitation. But with proper post resuscitation care, we can minimize that...”
“...SPIEGEL: Doesn't the idea of “bringing people back” imply that they weren't really dead in the first place?
Parnia: I think the state they are in corresponds to the cultural concept we all have of death. We encounter it in movies and books all the time. That is my basic message: The death we commonly perceive today in 2013 is a death that can be reversed.
SPIEGEL: But not real brain death.
Parnia: No. When brain cells have decayed after a number of hours, no intervention, neither now nor in a 1000 years, will bring them back. That death is final. But up to that point, there is a gray zone. Today, we simply do not know when someone transitions from potentially reversible to irreversible. Tests used today to diagnose brain death are tests of brain stem function — not of actual cell death....”
What I said is I can't explain it, but I can predict it.
Obviously I know it affects me and my family.
In the long run there are consequences for a society that tolerates incompetence, false information and abuse of authority. Humans never change their nature and you can see that in history.
I was reading another article where the doctor was saying that, in a case such as this, you have to give the patients a few weeks of supportive care and ‘allow the dust to settle’. There’s no way of knowing at this point.
So don’t fight ‘for the children’ fight for our rights to self-determination and for the rights of family to protect family.
Thank you for sharing your story Marie. This is the case with a couple of my family members as well. The care of family moved them toward recovery. God bless.
Thanks for sharing this. You are so right that the family must be the decision maker, and fighting for life is not a mistake or being cruel.
I was extremely frustrated by the lack of care and concern when my Dad was in intensive care, and they were pressuring me and trying to make me feel guilty for not “ending his suffering”. I kept insisting that he get nutrition, antibiotics, and ventilator to see if the anitbiotics would work.
What is happening with this recent case is just awful. To think that the hospital would go against the family’s wishes and actually withhold nutrition is criminal as far as I am concerned.
I broke my back wne I was four (not paralyzed, thank G-d) and it’s been a hard road.
For me there have always been just three things that have set me on edge.
1) Pain. Chronic, horrible pain. If that’s under control, my life is livable.
2) Feeling like a burden. Like I’m not pulling my own weight. Like the people I love would be better off without me. (They’ve made it very clear that this is not the case.) So I give as much as I can and try very hard to (at least!) be a kind, supportive person.
3) Feeling like I’m useless. A person needs a purpose. So I’ve started writing. That’s something I can do. As long as I’m working toward something, I’ve got something to live for.
I have no idea what condition your wife is in, but it sounds like ‘she’ is very aware. We all need to have a purpose.
Please check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joni_Eareckson_Tada
Paralyzed from the neck down, she writes, paints, and has a ministry.
With today’s technology, people can paint with only their eyes. http://gizmodo.com/5403741/eyewriter-allows-man-to-paint-despite-paralysis
If she’s in too much pain, she needs a new doctor and stronger meds.
I’m still struggling, but I’m happy (for the most part). Even happier now that I have a real hobby. Hubby’s happy that I’m happy and productive.
(If you ever want to talk, I’m here)
I stand with you. I remember when the Shiavo matter became news, and I heard it on the radio. I said to myself, there is no way in America some one will be starved and killed. To make it worse, those doctors tried to tell the public that the starvation and lack of hydration was pleasant and somewhat euphoric. I have often wondered how much money transacts to those involved in procuring the organs.
In this particular case the liability of the doctors and hospital is much more limited (under state law) if the child dies as opposed to being stabilized on life support for a few weeks and possibly surviving when it is then withdrawn.
The state will be able to direct the recipients of her organs should she die quickly, but will be denied those organs should she survive long term.
She's worth more dead than alive to the doctors, hospital and state.
There is no power the state will not abuse, and you will note that the state issues (or denies) licenses to practice or operate to both the doctors and the hospital.
I think you get the drift.
Bravo Marie! You state a position for parents and the family unit, funny how so called “conservatives” here on FR are all for govt and hospital admin having the right to call the shots. This is not a position that supports the family.
It is so odd that we have gone from a society that lauds the story of Helen Keller, yet would condemn her to death or nothingness today. I thank the Lord for my Great-great Grandmother... when my Grandmother was born, very badly deformed by the breach birth and not able to breast feed... the doctor said he could do nothing and the child would die. My GG Grandmother worked on her limbs and fed her by hand and she began to thrive and live. My Grandmother had four children of her own and I am the child of her oldest son. Had this farm woman who cared so much to nurse this child not done so, many generations would have never existed in our family. She knew she could nurse this child as she would nurse any newly born calf or lamb who would need the same.... She also had great faith that God would help her through. There was a time when we had faith and now we only worship authority and those who call themselves educated and qualified to make these decisions... I call them educated IDIOTS... learned that from my Dad... he was right.
Thank you, ACC.
That attitude about this case here on FR just makes me heavy. I miss the prayer warriors and the people who’d defend the to life, to self-determination, and parental rights until death.
OMG.. yes... the prayer warriors! I miss them too! We can be those prayer warriors...
Did you read the article or the poster’s story. What if you are wrong? It ain’t over until it’s over. See my other post about my Mom. We had the turn the respirator off conversation about 6 hours before she woke up.
Yes, I’m beginning to think that our current science on “life” can be very inaccurate much of the time. That seems to be proven over time with changing “science of today” as to mean not yesterday’s junk science! All things keep changing and yet those of us living today keep claiming that “science” says ..... Maybe it is really time to question all of science and many of the other things that are deemed facts these days.
Whoda thunk it?
On a more serious note, prayers for Jahi and her family.
Do you want one of commander zero's peeps deciding whether your life is worth living?
I think not.
No one ever said this quandary was an easy one with a simple and fair solution....if it was we’d have a solution by now. My take on the matter is basically you can have all the high tech medical wonders administered to you and yours that you desire.....if you can pay for it. Anything else is fundamentally unfair, fundamentally socialism.
You touched my heart today.
Just offering this up as a bit of balance - My wife is an RN and worked in an ICU for 11 years. She has told me countless stories of lifeless bodies on vents literally rotting away. The families refuse to allow the vents to be removed, but few come to visit. Removing the vent would stop the monthly checks from coming in. My wife had to finally move to a new department, she could not stand to see the cruelty people are capable of by not letting the dead go.