If the concept of “justice” matters–and if we care about the integrity of the system that bears its name–the Jahi McMath case must be reopened. This from someone who wrote publicly last year that I thought she was dead.
The other day, I posted about UCLA neurologist Alan Shewmon’s opinion that Jahi is not only alive, but conscious.
Now, Dr. Calixto Machado, while more objectively clinical in his language than Shewmon, is equally unequivocal–based on objective medical tests–that Jahi is not brain dead. In other words, she is alive.
Machado is a very credentialed neurologist, medical professor, and recipient of the American Academy of Neurology Lawrence McHenry Award in 2005 because of his research in the field. In short, he is a very respected expert in the field of brain death.
He also believes that brain death is a real phenomenon. From his declaration under penalty of perjury:
I must affirm that I am a defender that brain death means death of the human being, and it is a state with no hope of recovery. Moreover, I am a Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), and I consider that AAN Criteria for Brain Death Diagnosis represents one the most outstanding and reliable Guidelines in the world for confirming the diagnosis of brain death.
Dr. Machado viewed the EEG of Jahi–without knowing whose test it was–and concluded that the patient’s test showed:
The neurophysiological data is not consistent with the classical EEG isoelectric pattern found in brain-dead cases.
He then personally performed the MRI test. Here is his astounding conclusion:
The MRI shows that the subject had suffered a serious brain injury. It is possible to observe ribbons at the level of the cortex, indicating preservation of neocortex.
Had she been brain dead without cerebral blood flow since January of 2014, we would not expect to see the structure of the brain to be as it is now; it would have, most likely, liquefied. This brain did not liquefy, but has maintained tissue structure.
This is in fact for me the most important finding in this case to deny that she is brain-dead, because considering the concept of brain death (BD), that per definition an irreversible absence of cerebral blood flow (CBF) should be present, in this case, with more than 9 months of evolution with the possible diagnosis of BD, I would have expected to find the classic description of the “respirator brain” (brain liquefied, without any nervous system structure, etc.).
Machado then discusses a “heart rate variability test” that, he testifies, also is not consistent with brain death. Ditto the videos of Jahi appearing to respond to requests to move her arm or leg. He also notes that Jahi has started to menstruate, “unprecedented” in the literature.
This medical expert concludes his testimony–his emphasis:
It is my opinion, as one who is a defender of brain death, and who believes that brain death does occur, and can be confirmed through testing of the type conducted on Jahi McMath, that this patient DOES NOT ACTUALLY FULFILL THE BRAIN DEATH CRITERIA AND HENCE SHE IS NOT BRAIN DEAD, considering the whole brain criteria of BD.
Not only should this case be reopened, what possible reason would there be to force the declaration of death to remain on record without hearing all the evidence that seems to indicate she is very much alive?
Reprinted with permission from National Review Online.