They Thought She Was Brain Dead and Discussed Harvesting Her Organs, But She’s Alive

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 9, 2016   |   6:44PM   |   Kalamazoo, Michigan

The 14-year-old survivor of a mass shooting in Michigan is making a miraculous recovery just a few weeks after doctors thought she might die.

The teen, Abigail Kopf, was one of several people who were shot on Feb. 20 at a Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel, 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.

Kopf’s health has been progressing rapidly during her 17-day stay in the hospital, according to her doctors. Her condition improved so much that she recently was transferred to a rehabilitation facility to continue treatment, WKZO AM reports.

Immediately after the shooting on Feb. 20, Kopf was taken to the Bronson Methodist Children’s Hospital in critical condition. According to ABC News, doctors discussed the possibility that Kopf could be declared brain dead shortly after she arrived at the hospital.Doctors also asked Kopf’s parents about donating her organs if she died.

However, when Abigail’s mother, Vicki, asked Abigail to squeeze her hand if the teen could hear her, Abigail responded. Then the doctor asked Abigail to give a thumbs up, and she lifted both thumbs in response, the report states.

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Kopf’s recovery will continue at the rehab center where she will learn to walk and talk again, according to the report.

“The pace of her progress is exceptional,” Dr. Aaron Lane-Davies said. “It will be a long journey ahead, but she is regaining her functions more quickly than expected for someone with an extensive brain injury.”

Her parents, Gene and Vicki Kopf, said their family has received a lot of support from the community since the tragic event.

Bobby Schindler, the brother of euthanasia victim Terri Schiavo and founder of Terri’s Life & Hope Network, told LifeNews that the young girl’s story should serve as a cautionary tale to families.

“Initially, reports circulated that Abigail’s doctors diagnosed her as ‘brain dead,’” Schindler said. “Although later doctors denied this, what wasn’t denied was that the organ procurement organizations were contacted. Nonetheless, if not for her loving parents advocating for Abigail, she mostly likely wouldn’t be improving to the point where she is now going to receive rehabilitation for her brain injury.”

Unfortunately, in a few cases, other young people have been declared “brain dead” prematurely. 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 diagnosed as brain dead have died; but in others, they have lived and recovered.