They Said She Was Brain Dead, Now Jahi McMath is Breathing on Her Own

National   |   Wesley Smith   |   Oct 10, 2016   |   5:57PM   |   Washington, DC

Readers may recall Jahi McMath–the teenager declared brain dead in California. Her family–assisted by the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network and the Life Legal Defense Foundation–fought the determination in court. A settlement led to Jahi being declared dead by California as the family was permitted to take her to New Jersey, where she remains.

Now, a few years later, her body has not deteriorated as usually happens in brain death, and indeed, her family claims she is slowly improving.

California courts have ruled that the family may attempt to prove in court that she is not actually dead.

Her family has now released a video, in which a breathing measuring machine is seen, with her mother urging Jahi to take breaths without mechanical assistance. According to the narration, she takes fourteen or fifteen breaths on her own in a minute.

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If that is true, Jahi is not dead because it means that she can hear and that at least her brain stem has continuing function.

Every time I write about Jahi’s case, there are angry reader responses insisting she is dead.

I am not sure why people have such an emotional investment in Jahi’s demise, but if she isn’t dead, it is a matter of urgency that the truth come out.

The needs of science require it, as this may be an unprecedented event. The integrity of the system demands it. And Jahi deserves it. Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.