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Honor Jahi McMath; Revise 'Brain Death' Criteria

Contact: Tom Shakely, Executive Director, Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, 855-300-4673, tshakely@lifeandhope.com

PHILADELPHIA, June 29, 2018 /Standard Newswire/ -- Jahi McMath, an Oakland teenager at the center of an international debate on the "brain death" criteria, died earlier this week due to liver failure.

"We fought for Jahi, her family, and her rights ever since her 2013 brain injury," said Bobby Schindler, President of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network. "After Jahi was ruled to be brain dead, she and her family found themselves in an incredible situation wherein Jahi was considered legally dead in California, but legally alive in New Jersey due to that state's religious accomodations. Nailah Winkfield and Jahi's entire family fought for nearly five years on the grounds that Jahi exhibited behavior inconsistent with the brain death diagnosis. Jahi was not only still alive, but may have benefited from treatment and rehabilitative care."

Brain death, known as the "neurological criterion" for death, was formulated in 1968 but has been the subject of vigorous debate since its inception. The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network advocates for revisions to the brain death criteria that allows for patients who may be experiencing severe coma, minimal consciousness, or other extraordinary behavior to still have a chance at treatment and care.

"At present, to be ruled brain dead means that you're considered dead and all insurance and medical support immediately stops," continued Schindler. "Jahi lived for nearly five years after being declared dead thanks to the love and care of her mother. The way that Jahi, Nailah, and her family were treated by some physicians since 2013 has been a scandal; a case study in the human cost of elitist and bureaucratic disregard for a patient who needed care."

That NBC, the Associated Press and others are now reporting with headlines like "Jahi McMath, Oakland Teen at Center of Brain Death Debate, Dies," ironically underscores the reality that so many have denied for nearly five years: Jahi was alive.

"We will continue to advocate in Jahi's memory for revisions to the 'brain death' criteria to ensure that patients who don't meet the criteria in the future won't be denied all care."

The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network upholds human dignity through service to the medically vulnerable.