Monday, December 30, 2013
As I have previously discussed here and here, life support can be quite controversial. In one case, Jahi McMath’s family wants to keep the 13-year-old on life support despite her diagnosis as brain dead. In the other case, Marlise Munoz’s husband wants his pregnant wife off life support but Texas law prevents it.
Arthur Caplan, the director for the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, thinks there is a need for a national conversation on brain death and the levels of brain functioning. In Jahi’s case, Caplan believes doctors need to be more transparent about the finality of brain death. By asking Jahi’s parents about mechanically continuing biological function, doctors created a terrible scenario where the parents resist any removal of machines because they want to hope that this awful thing did not happen.
In Munoz’s case, Texas law states that “life-sustaining treatment” cannot be withheld from a pregnant patient, but if Munoz is truly brain dead, then she is not really receiving “life-sustaining treatment.”
See Elizabeth Landau, When ‘Life Support’ Is Really ‘Death Support’, CNN, Dec. 28, 2013.