Having talked with a few reporters, this week, about the status of the the lawsuits concerning Jahi McMath, I realized that is is essential to use careful and precise language. The following is a summary of the allegations in the state medical malpractice case.
1. All parties agree that Jahi satisfied the prevailing medical criteria for brain death in December 2013.
2. All parties agree that because of that multiply confirmed diagnosis, Jahi was then declared legally dead under the CUDDA.
3. The family claims that Jahi no longer satisfies the prevailing medical criteria for brain death. Therefore, she is not legally dead.
4. On the other hand, it is not logical to say that Jahi was correctly determined dead in 2013 and is now alive. If she does not now meet the prevailing medical criteria for brain death, then she did not really ever meet the legal definition of death in 2013. The CUDDA, like state laws everywhere, requires that the cessation of brain function be “irreversible.” If, as the family claims, it has reversed, then this condition was not satisfied. That apparently means there is something deficient about the way we measure brain death.