Doctors Declared Her Brain Dead and Issued a Death Certificate, But Her Family Says She’s Still Alive

International   |   Steven Ertelt, Alex Schadenberg   |   Oct 17, 2017   |   4:20PM   |   Toronto, Canada

It’s happening again. Here is another case of a patient who doctors are giving up on perhaps too soon.

Just as was the case with Terri Schiavo and many other patients like her, doctors say a young woman is brain dead and removed her from life support. Doctors even went as far as issuing a death certificate — but this young woman’s family believes she is still alive and they are seeking additional medical opinions.

Taquisha McKitty (27) of Brampton Ontario was declared brain dead on September 20 after having a cardiac arrest on September 14 related to a drug overdose. Her parents immediately sought a court injunction to prevent the William Osler Health System in Brampton from removing her life-support.

On September 28 Ontario Superior Court Justice Lucille Shaw granted an injunction in order to allow Taquisha to be evaluated by another doctor.

Stanley Stewart, Taquisha’s father, told CP 24 news, after being granted an injunction, that his daughter is still alive.

“If you are there with her and you touch her and you grab her feet, she will pull her feet from you. If you tickle her she will move her feet. In one instance one of her cousins was squeezing her hand and asked her to show her thumb and she moved her thumb,” he said. “We know for a fact that she is alive because if she was dead and her brain was dead there is no way that a week-and-a-half later she would still be moving. If you are brain dead then no parts should be moving.”

Now the family is asking for more time to conduct additional medical tests:

McKitty’s family believes she is still showing signs of life. The family wants the death certificate revoked and obtained a temporary injunction from the court late last month to keep her on the respirator while its legal challenge continues.

Court heard Tuesday that a series of tests has been conducted but McKitty’s family is asking for at least one more to be performed, which would require the court to extend the injunction.

The test would involve filming McKitty for 72 hours to capture her movements and better assess whether they represent a sign of consciousness or simply a reflex, Scher said.

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Lawyers for McKitty’s doctor are taking issue with the family’s expert witness, an American doctor who told the court Tuesday he does not believe lack of brain function is enough to declare someone dead.

Dr Paul Byrne, a retired American expert on brain death criteria told CP 24 news:

“What’s going on here is the young lady is living,”

“A declaration by a doctor does not make someone dead. There is clearly a difference between being alive and being dead and she is alive. Her heart beats, she has circulation, she moves her legs and she responds to the family.”

Byrne told CP 24 that it appears that the hospital rushed to declare Taquisha as brain dead because she had signed her organ donor card.

Dr. Byrne testified in court.

“The beating heart is indication that there can be circulation going on and I don’t think that a patient should be declared dead as long as there is life in that patient,” Dr. Paul Byrne told the court.

This is not the first time that the William Osler Health System in Brampton is embroiled in a controversial withdrawal of care case. In August 2010 Joshua Myandi, a pastor of a small Church, was dehydrated to death after a controversial capacity board hearing.

A GoFundMe account to help with legal costs has been set up.