That doesn't always happen.
Take the coverage on little Israel Stinson, for example. In case you haven't been following this very sad case, Israel was a 2-year old boy in California who had an asthma attack nearly five months ago at the beginning of April. He was initially taken to a hospital and stabilised, then he was moved to the paediatric intensive care at another hospital where he unfortunately suffered cardiac arrest. After extensive testing he was pronounced brain dead, but he was still moved to yet another hospital for further evaluation. Two more doctors at the third hospital performed brain death evaluations and again pronounced him brain dead. Plans were made to remove him from life support.
Ah ah ah, not so fast.
Israel's parents refused to accept the diagnosis, and after much legal wrangling and online fundraising they were able to airlift him to Guatemala where he had feeding and breathing tubes placed. According to Israel's parents, a paediatric neurologist in Guatemala saw "some brain activity" on an EEG (I have seen no corroborating evidence from any doctor or any report), which supposedly showed that he was not brain dead. Then about two weeks ago he was transferred back to California, this time to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, with hopes that his parents, Jonee Fonseca and Nate Stinson, could eventually care for him at home. They got a restraining order preventing the hospital from doing any more brain death studies, presumably because they were afraid of the results - that he was still brain dead.
And as has always been the case in brain death in the entirety of human history, Israel's brain death was not reversible. A California judge lifted the restraining order yesterday, and as soon as Israel was taken off somatic support, he stopped breathing. Exactly as would be expected in a brain dead patient.
As a parent (and as a doctor) it upsets me viscerally me that this little boy was kept in limbo for so long because his parents (like those of Jahi McMath) refused to accept that their son was gone, but what exasperates me even more is the way the press has covered it:
You get the idea. The verbiage is strikingly similar, and it is similarly misleading. No, Israel did NOT die after being removed from life support. Israel died nearly five months ago when his heart stopped and his brain was deprived of oxygen for 40 minutes. But it is much more sensational to report that a toddler died after being removed from life support, because it implies the hospital was doing something wrong.
The headlines are misleading enough, but the articles are infuriating - the implications turn into downright accusations.
The most egregious was from Fox 40, a news station based in Sacramento (where, probably not coincidentally, Israel was first declared brain dead at UC Davis). I can not even sum up the stupidity here, so I will let their own words damn them as the article opens:
A Vacaville 2-year-old is dead, not because of the severe respiratory illness that stole his vibrancy along with his breath last April, but because of the heartless action by a hospital in the midst of an appeal, according to his loved ones and his lawyers.I can't even. I want to even, but I can't. This is how this ridiculous article starts, but if you can believe it, it gets even worse.
"This is a sad, sad state because this is an execution of an innocent 2-year-old in this country. This child was alive and this child was not brain dead," said Attorney Kevin Snider.
An execution, Snider says, carried out by Children's Hospital of Los Angeles on his client Baby Israel Stinson.
"Unfortunately the courts and the medical community wanted to rush in and pull the plug on him to be crass," he said.Are these people fucking serious? Sure some doctors (surgeons, mainly) seem to enjoy being crass, but do they really think that doctors are in the business of killing toddlers? Even putting aside the ridiculous bullshit from the lawyer, is there any such thing as journalistic integrity with these writers? If there is, I completely missed it. How could they possibly include that insane quote? An execution? Really??
Despite this, Fox 40 made absolutely no effort to show the other side of the issue - that three different doctors at two separate hospitals had all performed independent brain death studies, and all had found the same thing - that he was brain dead. There was no mention that the EEG is not a definitive study for brain death and that there had been no confirmation of the supposed "brain activity". There was no comment whatsoever that Israel had been completely unresponsive and had not opened his eyes since his cardiac arrest. Nothing. Zero. Nil. And of course because of privacy laws in the United States, the hospital was unable to comment on the entire affair and defend their entirely defensible actions.
KCRA, another news station from Sacramento (surprise, surprise) included the insane "execution" quote from Kevin Snider but took it even further:
"This was an execution of an innocent 2-year-old by the authority of California,” Snider said. “Had this child been a murderer or a terrorist, he would have had far more appellate rights by our courts than he was given.”Wha . . . what . . . WHAT? Are you . . . WHAT?? This child was given nearly five months to get better. He didn't. He was declared dead by three different doctors, and this clown calls this an execution? Hyperbole does not even begin to describe this putrid cesspool of flapdoodle. But KCRA doubles down with more Snider claptrap at the end of the article:
"Though society has produced medical geniuses, it also has not produced with people with a high moral IQ in the medical field sadly," Snider said.I don't believe any more needs to be said about that. I nearly screamed when I read it, and I was tempted to throw my computer across the room when I typed it. It just speaks for itself.
And to put a little cherry on top, Israel's parents are reportedly planning on suing Children's Hospital LA, because of course.
Sigh . . .
My final thoughts on Israel's saga is that he is finally at rest. Finally. I hope Jonee Fonseca and Nate Stinson will eventually feel some sense of closure. Israel had been gone for a long time, and his continued presence in a hospital bed was only causing his family undue grief.
I honestly and truly wish them peace.