A New "Terri Schiavo" case that could use our help

I came to this web site to ask what I thought was a simple question about internet mass and wound up debating what was a sacrament (NOT for debate here) with many great people and a few passive aggressive, holier than thou types (not that there is anything wrong with that). Here is something I think all Catholics can get behind. The sanctity of life and how it has been devalued by the media and many others.

Here is the link:


Basically the little girl was declared brain dead after a botched routine tonsillectomy. You can see that the hospital has gotten rather nasty with the family, insisting she is dead and they refuse to install a feeding tube for her to be transferred to a facility that wants to take her. They claim they don’t operate on dead people. As George Bush Sr. said in his debates, we do not know what science will come up with in the future.

I have worked with the inventor of the cord blood transplant and can tell everyone that there are stems cells in umbilical cord blood that can, in theory, replace any cell.


That includes the nerve and brain cells that died in this girl. It is a very very long shot right now, but who knows what the future will bring. Dr. Ende has been mocked for years for his forward thinking and cord blood transplants are now routine and have cured difficult diseases like sickle cell.

I believe this hospital is concerned about having to pay for the long term care of this girl who was a victim of their medical “accident”. Just like Terri, who is to say what death is for someone who only needs food to continue breathing with a beating heart?

There have been cases of people coming back from a diagnosis of brain death, but of course the diagnosis was blamed, not a miracle or recovery.



What can we do?

  1. Pray, we know modern miracles do happen
  2. Support Terri’s foundation, which has intervened in this case: terrisfight.org/ and lifeandhope.com/ They are having Glen Beck speak!
  3. Contact the hospital

Here is their plea: Amazing research opportunities exist but Children’s Hospital Oakland holds the key to Jahi’s death sentence - a simple tracheostomy procedure, despite a mother’s plea and the money to pay for it. Instead they starve her. Our plea is for a courageous ENT specialist physician to step forth and give this mother the choice and this child a chance. Contact the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network at: 484-278-4287

Here is the hospitals info but I could not find an email or fax.

Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland
747 52nd Street, Oakland, CA 94609

Maybe a letter to their CEO would have some effect.

Janet King, PhD
Interim Executive Director
Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute

David I.K. Martin, MD
Deputy Director
Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute

Rajnesh Prasad, MBA
Vice President, Research Operations
Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute

Here’s a thread which discusses this little girl’s case:


The Church’s position on brain death is also discussed.

What happened to Jahi is terrible and shocking. Yes, the hospital and the doctors messed up, but, no, she is not still alive. Brain dead is dead, even in the Church’s eyes.

I think this is a very emotional and sad situation. All surgeries have risks, especially surgery on the throat and sinuses because it is nearly impossible to stop the bleeding if that were to happen. That’s why those consent forms are so scary to sign sometimes.

In this case, I don’t think the hospital or medical professionals have done anything wrong. It was a sad outcome that couldn’t have been helped. They’ve been compassionate while still trying to help the family come to terms with the fact that their child is dead. Schiavo was able to sit up and recognize people. This little girl only has a heartbeat because a machine is giving her one, there is zero brain activity. Moving her body across the country attached to machines to stay in a facility that is incredibly expensive and with no hope of rehabilitation is not a good stewardship of their money or the money of whomever ends up paying for it.

It seems like the family needs someone who is kind, loving and very firm to step in and tell them that their child is gone but that they could give life to other children through her via organ and tissue donation, donating the money given to them to help other children who will survive and go on to live a few or many more years and a legacy could be set up in their childs name. Maybe a foundation to help children with severe weight/health issues that put them at risk for needing surgeries like these. So many things. Positive could come out of this tragedy. But castigating the doctors and nurses and other professionals who never would have wanted this to happen and provided the best care they could isn’t going to help anyone. If letters are to be sent, they could be letters of compassion, letters of God’s good news, letters letting everyone involved know that we are praying for them and their painful loss.

Thanks for the link. I did not see the church’s position though. I do not think we ever know the whole story from the media. Being in science, i can tell you that resources are scarce and getting more scarce. If the Schiavo foundation is investing money, they can see some purpose. I respect they church’s rules and views on moral issues, including science, but they have not had the greatest record on cutting edge science, dating back to the sun revolving around the world thing. I am sure the church consulted the best experts they could find for defining brain dead and death, but from working with Dr. Ende, I know the best experts can have bias and maybe are simply not up on the latest theory. No one can stay on top of science these days. You are lucky to keep up in your specialty and make a contribution every few years. Right now the Schiavo foundation appear to be the most reliable and they don’t have a direct conflict of interest to the case.

Even if it is clear she is dead from all known human definitions, people have been bought back from the dead. Jesus did it and there are unexplainable cases online. We do not know what science will come up with in the future.

If all it takes to make the family happy at this point is a tracheotomy, imo, it should be done. That said, if I were to see all the data, I might advise as suggested here, to have a counselor talk to them.

Is Jahi’s situation that she needs a tracheotomy to allow her to breathe? Or does she need a ventilator? My understanding from the other thread is that she needs a ventilator?

As I understand it she needs it to be moved.

from the ABC article:

Also included in the federal complaint was a request that Children’s Hospital Oakland perform a tracheotomy and insert a feeding tube, which are necessary procedures before Jahi can be transferred.

It also says she is on life support. This is far from my area of specialty and it can mean a ventilator and feeding tube, dialysis machine etc. but in severe cases it can mean a heart/lung machine or Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). I don’t think you need a ventilator in this case because this machine takes the place of heart and lung. It is used for open heart surgery also.

It is really hard to guess what function is left. If she is breathing on her own and her heart is still working, then she would just need to be fed, but saying she is on life support usually means more than a feeding tube. Maybe someone else has seen a more detailed story.

I found this link:


ECMO is primarily indicated for patients with such severe ventilation and/or oxygenation problems that they are unlikely to survive conventional mechanical ventilation. Examples of such patients would include those with the adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) without major non-pulmonary organ failure who are failing mechanical ventilation or who are suffering from major barotrauma that makes adequate ventilation impossible. ECMO is only useful in cases where the primary lung insult is reversible in the absence of the usual oxygen toxicity and barotrauma caused by usual mechanical support. Since most patients who die of ARDS die of multi-system organ failure or sepsis, it would follow that most ARDS patients are not good candidates for ECMO. Another criteria often cited for qualifying a patient for ECMO treatment is a pre-treatment predicted mortality threshold, typically above 80-90%. Such a threshold makes ECMO, a new and as yet non-mainstream therapy, an ethically appealing option for otherwise hopeless cases.

It’s possibly not relevant to Jahis situation,but doctors can be wrong about braindeath sometimes.
In the below link,4 doctors misdiagnosed the boy as dead.


The statement I emphasized is the important part to me. If this were a case where the parents wanted the child removed from life support and the doctors or government said no, the “pro-choice” groups would be screaming. But in this case, as was partially true in the Terri Schiavo case, the family is choosing life and probably will be denied in the end.

I do not debate science or the modern thinking, but I do debate in favor of this family choosing to keep their child on life support as long as they choose to. I would also support the choice to remove life support if the doctors agree, bottom line the parents choose.

She is not breathing on her own.

Her body needs two surgeries. One for a feeding tube. One for a permanent trach. The tach is for a vent.

The hospital is stating that that they refuse to operate on a dead body.

Diagnosing brain death is not something a medical facility enjoys doing, especially to a child who is now in this position because of a hospital procedure that went wrong. Her brain death has been verified by 6 doctors, 4 of whom did not work for this hospital. Putting someone on a ventilator in the first place is considered an “extraordinary measure” to preserve life. Once a diagnosis like this has been made, especially by this many doctors, there is no real life left to preserve with the machines. If God’s going to perform a miracle, he doesn’t need the hospital to insert a breathing tube or cut a hole in her throat for her to be mechanically ventilated. As a healthcare worker, I can tell you that this sort of situation is deeply troubling to doctors and medical staff, especially with a child, and wrongfully diagnosing brain death for any reason and thus withdrawing care is not something any one wants to do.

Thanks, your educated opinion is appreciated.

Here is an update, she has been moved:

One of the commentators also seemed like an educated contributor. They can tell people how the situation is today, but as a published stem cell researcher, I am saying we have no clue what tomorrow will bring. The family wishes should matter, especially when they are not demanding money from the people who put their daughter in this situation.

God works in many ways that he chooses. I believe He also helps people who help themselves. I don’t get the comments about a miracle doesn’t have to involve the throat surgery. It is what other doctors have said she needed.
Ashley 14 minutes ago

This is not an open for debate but why would you assume that her hospital bill is at the expense of the tax payers and not private insurance? And as for her case…I’ve worked in a brain and spinal injury facility for the last few yrs and unfortunately see similar cases way too often. 99% of the time the person doesnt come out of it and when they do its not the quality of life i would want. In rare cases we have seen pts come in with a pvs dx and walk out but more often than not that doesn’t happen. As a mother I can’t imagine letting go of my child but as a health care professional I know the road that lies ahead and I’m sad for her and her family. She has years (avg of 7 on a vent) of watching her daughters body age, grieving and holding on to hope. It’s hard watching families go through this, never able to really grieve and move on. This isn’t a situation I’d wish on anyone and let’s be sensitive as we comment that we don’t say such ignorant comments. Thanks in advance!

I think it’s a bad idea to put this up as a life issue. The poor girl died, there is no brain activity. Since when do we as Catholics believe that life must be extended for as long as possible regardless of the situation? I love Catholic thought because while we may have our heads in the clouds our feet should be firmly planted on the ground. Taking this as a life issue makes us look like hopeless dreamers constantly looking at the sky for a miracle.

In the other thread an article/opinion piece referred to holding out hope for a miricle to be tempting God and I agree. Death is a part of life, it is not evil. I do support the parents decision though but I think it is wishful thinking and hope they can move on as best they can with the situation.

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