Peter Baklinski

‘She’s very much a living person’: Doctor champions 13-yr-old ‘brain dead’ girl on ventilator

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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OAKLAND, CA, December 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pioneer doctor in neonatology is championing the life of a 13-year-old girl from California who was officially declared “brain dead” by doctors after a routine tonsillectomy last week went horribly wrong.

“The first thing about ‘brain death’ is that brain death is not true death. It never was and never will be,” said Dr. Paul Byrne, a pioneer neonatologist and clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Toledo to LifeSiteNews.com.

“This girl is still very much a living person. Her life ought to be protected and preserved. No one should be hastening her death or shortening her life,” he said.

Tonsillectomy is a common surgery. Jahi McMath’s December 9 surgery was recommended by doctors to allegedly address the her sleep apnea. While the surgery at first appeared to be successful, the girl began coughing up blood before suffering cardiac arrest. Doctors declared her brain-dead December 12.

The McMath family is seeking a court injunction today through their lawyer that would prevent doctors at the Children’s Hospital in Oakland from taking their daughter Jahi off life-support, despite doctors allegedly telling the family that she is “dead, dead, dead, dead.”

But Jahi’s mother Nailah believes that her daughter is not truly dead.

“I feel her. I can feel my daughter. I just kind of feel like maybe she’s trapped inside her own body. She wants to scream out and tell me something,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Jahi's uncle Omari Sealey agrees: "She's still warm. I can feel her presence, I can still feel her smile," he told KGO-TV.

Byrne said that it should be “obvious to everyone,” not just the girl’s relatives, that she is still alive.

“Her heart is beating, she has circulation, she has respiration, her immune mechanisms are intact, and I’m sure she is healing from her tonsillectomy. Healing happens in only a living person.”

“These are facts of life, [indicating] that this girl is a living person and that she’s not dead,” he said.

Byrne explained that someone does not “become dead” because a doctor declares someone ‘brain dead’, “although they intend it that way”, he added.

He explained that the brain dead criteria was “invented” in 1968 by an ad hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School openly seeking a way to harvest organs for transplanting. Since a dead organ taken from a corpse cannot be successfully transplanted into a living body, the committee settled on a definition of death that would allow the harvest of healthy living organs from a still living body that lacked signs of brain activity.

“Brain death was invented, conjured, made-up to get organ transplants,” he said.

Declaring someone ‘brain dead’ to harvest organs is always to the detriment of the patient, Byrne explained. “No one can recover once they’ve had their beating heart and other organs cut out.”

“If doctors can, they will take this young girl’s organs.”

Byrne said it’s a common misconception that a machine, such as a ventilator, gives a person life. The machine only sustains an already existing life.

In a case like Jahi's, the ventilator “only moves the air into a living person. It does not move the air out.”

“The air comes out become the person is alive,” he said.

“The machine supports the vital activities of respiration and circulation, but it does not give life. The life comes from God and from no place else. What doctors [are supposed to] do is protect and preserve the life that’s there,” he said.

The girl’s family is waging a legal battle to keep their daughter on a ventilator and to have doctors insert a feeding tube into her.

“I want her on as long as possible, because I really believe that God will wake her up,” the mother said. The family held a prayer vigil on Wednesday night for their daughter’s recovery.

The family is keeping constant vigil at their girl’s bedside, fearing that doctors might pull the plugs without their knowledge or consent.

The doctors know that the law favors whatever decision they make. California law states that "a person who is declared brain dead is legally and physiologically dead." According to the law, Jahi is dead.

Byrne said that only New York and New Jersey have a conscience clause that offers specific protections to a patient declared ‘brain dead’ whose primary caregiver does not hold cessation of brain activity as true death. “In the other 48 states, there is nothing in their laws to give any kind of protection to the person declared brain dead.”

“All of the laws — and I mean all of them — all revolve around getting organs,” he said.

The hospital administration is asking the family permission to release details that they say will “provide transparency, openness and provide answers to the public about this situation.”

“We implore the family to allow the hospital to openly discuss what has occurred and to give us the necessary legal permission—which it has been withholding—that would bring clarity, and we believe, some measure of closure and deeper understanding of this medical case,” said Dr. David Durand, chief of pediatrics, in a statement.

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Many people posting online comments underneath Jahi’s story carried by various media agree with the doctors that it’s time for “closure”.

“I’m so sorry for this family. The problem is that they don't seem to understand that no one ‘wakes up’ or recovers from brain death. It's not like being in a coma, where there is still brain activity. The brain is dead; she can't come back,” wrote one.

“Despite the pain they are going through the realization is this: She is clinically brain dead. When the brain stops, everything else stops as well. The life support machine is not going to bring her back to life,” wrote another.

“Legal brain death is 100% of never coming back, She is a corpse and the human life in her is 100% gone,” wrote yet another.

But LifeSiteNews.com has reported on numerous stories of people declared ‘brain dead’ by doctors and who have unexpectedly recovered.

Here are incidents from the past five years:

  • July 2013 - A New York woman who was pronounced ‘brain dead’ by doctors unexpectedly awoke just as her organs were about to be removed for transplant.
  • October 2012 - A documentary titled “Pigen der ikke ville dø” (“The girl who refused to die”), aired on Danish TV, telling the story of 19-year-old Carina Melchior, who awoke after doctors declared her "brain dead" and had approached the family about considering donating her organs.
  • April 2012 - Doctors declared british teen Stephen Thorpe "brain dead," telling the father that the boy would never recover from a serious car accident. Despite pressure from the doctors, the father would not consent to allow the boy’s organs to be donated. With the help of other doctors, five weeks later Thorpe left the hospital, having almost completely recovered.
  • July 2011 - Madeleine Gauron, a Quebec woman — identified as viable for organ donation after doctors diagnosed her as "brain dead" — surprised her family and physicians when she recovered from a coma, opened her eyes, and began eating.
  • May 2011 - An Australian woman declared “brain dead” regained consciousness after family fought for weeks doctor recommendations that her ventilator be shut off.
  • February 2008 - 65-year-old Raleane Kupferschmidt was taken home to die after relatives were told by doctors that she was "brain dead" from a massive cerebral hemorrhage. The family had already begun to grieve and plan for her funeral when she suddenly awoke and was rushed back to hospital.
  • March 2008 - In one particularly chilling case, 21-year-old Zack Dunlap, who was declared "brain dead" following an ATV accident, recounted how he remembers hearing doctors discussing harvesting his organs. Zack showed signs of life only moments before he was scheduled to be wheeled into the operating theater to have his organs removed. One of Zack’s relatives provoked the reaction by digging a pocketknife under his fingernail.
  • May 2008 - A Virginia family was shocked but relieved when their mother, Val Thomas, woke up after doctors declared her ‘brain dead’. Doctors had not detected brain waves for more than 17 hours, but kept the woman breathing on a respirator. The family were discussing organ donation options for their mother when she suddenly woke up and started speaking to nurses.
  • June 2008 - A Parisian whose organs were about to be removed by doctors after he had "died" of a heart attack, revived on the operating table only minutes before doctors were to begin harvesting his organs.

Dr. Byrne said that with California’s permissive "brain death" laws, the most important thing people can do is pray.

“Pray for this child, for this family,” he said. 

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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