I'm simply stunned.
As you can probably imagine, considering everything I see in my trauma bay, it takes a lot to stun me. The most recent judge in the Jahi McMath case managed to do it.
If you aren't familiar with Jahi, you can read more about her sad case here (there are links to other updates in that post). In short, at age 13 she underwent a complicated nasopharyngeal surgery back in December of 2013. The surgery reportedly went well, but postoperatively she bled to the point of cardiac arrest and eventual brain death (which was verified by 6 separate physicians). Her mother fought the diagnosis, and she moved Jahi to New Jersey where she still resides, on a ventilator and unresponsive.
Or is she?
The family has released several videos showing Jahi supposedly moving to verbal cues and another showing her overbreathing her ventilator (if you aren't familiar with that term, just google it). They claim this proves she is not brain dead, and they found a well-known brain death critic named Alan Shewmon, a paediatric neurologist, to supposedly corroborate their hypothesis.
In response to this, judge Stephen Pulido this past week declared that there is a possibility that Jahi is not in fact brain dead, so he has decided to send the case to a jury to decide if Jahi is still dead or if she no longer satisfies the requirement for brain death.
There are several glaring problems, all of which have combined to flabbergast me.
The first and biggest problem I have here is that Alan Shewmon HAS NOT EXAMINED HER. He solely relied on the 49 unsubstantiated videos supplied by Jahi's family to formulate his opinion that Jahi does not meet the criteria for brain death. I've seen several of the videos, and I can definitively tell you that they mean exactly jack shit. For example, one of them shows only Jahi's foot moving in response to her mother's voice. That's it, just her foot. There is no indication how long they were taking video, if she was moving her foot prior to the commands being given, etc. It's absolutely meaningless.
Let me reiterate this in no uncertain terms: Alan Shewmon has averred in a sworn statement given to the court that Jahi no longer meets criteria for brain death based solely on these videos. The only instance when he examined her was in December of 2014, at which time he stated that she was not in any way responsive (see paragraph 9). He has NOT re-examined her since. Not to mention the fact that nothing in the videos is acceptable in either diagnosing or ruling out brain death.
And Judge Pulido not only accepted Shewmon's ridiculous statement, he has kicked this to a jury to decide in response to it.
Since when does a jury get to decide who is living or dead? I thought that was the job of doctors. Has medicine advanced to the point where a group of twelve people can make medical diagnoses? And who the fuck decided it was a good idea to do that based on the testimony of a doctor who hasn't even examined the damned patient?
Consider this - if I were to make a diagnosis on a patient I had not examined, what would you call me? At best, you should call me unethical. At worst, a quack. And even worse, consider this: Judge Pulido is asking a jury, presumably without any medical training whatsoever, to synthesise and assess information that even experts would have difficulty with? Are you fucking kidding me?
This case has officially become a farce. It was sad and risible before, but this latest development is absolutely ludicrously preposterous. I don't know how else to put it.
As I have said many times before, if new evidence comes to light showing that Jahi is in fact not brain dead, I will recant everything I have said and state without question that I was wrong. Until then, this is fucking ridiculous.