They Worried She Was Brain Dead and Considered Harvesting Her Organs, Then She Gave a Thumbs Up

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Feb 23, 2016   |   11:40AM   |   Washington, DC

A 14-year-old survivor of a mass shooting in Michigan escaped death twice in the past week.

The teen, identified as 14-year-old Abigail Kopf, was one of several people who were shot at a Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel on Saturday, according to CNN. Four others were killed at the restaurant and two others at a car dealership. The gunman, allegedly Jason Brian Dalton, has been charged with six counts of murder, the report states.

Abigail Kopf is in critical condition at the Bronson Methodist Children’s Hospital, and she already escaped two very close calls with death, according to ABC News. The first was during the shooting, the second at the hospital.

Shortly after arriving at the hospital, doctors discussed the possibility that Kopf may be declared brain dead. Kopf’s mother asked her to squeeze her hand again if the teen could hear her, and she did, he said. Then the doctor asked Kopf to give a thumbs up, and she lifted both thumbs in response, the officer said.

The family later said Abigail remains in critical condition at the hospital.

“Our daughter’s prognosis is uncertain as she continues fighting for her life,” they said in a statement.

Hospital medical director Dr. Aaron Lane-Davies told CNN said Kopf’s condition has been relatively stable in the past few days, and her responsiveness to her family and doctors has been good.

Authorities said they are unsure of the shooter’s motives.

“This is every community’s nightmare, when you have someone going around just randomly killing people, no rhyme, no reason,” Kalamazoo County prosecuting attorney Jeff Getting said.

Doctors said Abigail Kopf was never declared brain dead, and they continue to fight to save her life. Unfortunately, in a few cases, other young people have been declared “brain dead” prematurely.



Similarly, Jahi McMath, a young girl declared brain dead, remains alive more than two years after doctors tried to take her off life support. McMath’s family launched a legal battle against the hospital to keep her alive. LifeNews reported that at least three doctors so far say that the young girl, who remains in a hospital, is not brain dead.

These stories point to the life-threatening consequences of a brain death misdiagnosis. When doctors use the term “brain dead,” it’s usually a sign that they believe the patient has no hope of recovery and is basically dead.

But the diagnosis can be widely controversial. “Brain dead” diagnoses have launched public legal battles between hospitals and families over whether the patient really is brain dead and whether they deserve medical care. In many cases, the patients have died; but in others, they have lived or recovered.

LifeNews Note: This article has been updated.