Last Friday, two-year-old Thaiya Spruill-Smith was declared brain dead after being shaken violently by her stepfather. Now, her parents are in a dispute concerning whether or not they should donate their daughter’s organs. Her mother, Teoka Spruill, says her organs could bless another family while her father, Terrell Smith, disagrees. Smith told the New York Times that his daughter’s death could have been prevented if authorities would have listened to his complaint.
In the past, Smith was very suspicious that Thaiya was being abused by her stepfather, David Adams; he even reported to the Administration for Children’s Services that he had seen bruises on his daughter’s body. Additionally, prior to the incident, Smith was trying to take custody of his daughter.
The devastated father also explained why he didn’t want to donate his daughter’s organs. He argues that his daughter is still alive and said, “She was born with that, she’s going to be buried with that, her body, her eyes – it’s what makes her her.” On Monday, a judge ordered Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center to keep the child on life-support for at least another day while the family debates what they should do.
The family’s dynamics in this case are especially complicated. Thaiya’s stepfather, David Adams, 25, was charged with assault after he told prosecutors that he had shaken the girl so hard that her head swiveled back and forth several times. Thaiya’s body then went limp, according to a prosecutors’ summary of Mr. Adams’s statement. He then shook her again, the girl’s head swiveling again, and she went rigid.
After Thaiya was taken to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, doctors found she had bleeding and excess fluid in her brain, retinal hemorrhaging and abdominal bruises.
The charges against Mr. Adams will most likely be upgraded to murder, said Lupé Todd, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn district attorney, if the medical examiner’s office rules the death a homicide.
Although Spruill’s wishes are being considered, if Smith doesn’t change his mind the hospital will not go through with the organ donation. Dr. Mayer, a critical-care expert said, “When it comes to donating organs, you need consensus. When the family does not reach consensus the organ donation does not go forward. It’s not worth the amount of pain and agony and suffering that everyone will go through.”