Canada Family's fight to keep daughter on life support will end with landmark decision on what death is

20:27  15 may  2018
20:27  15 may  2018 Source:   cbc.ca

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Ouanounou' s family fought to keep him on life support indefinitely after he was declared brain dead on the grounds of his belief in a Jewish law that stipulates death is when the heart stops beating. 2nd GTA case still awaiting decision .

Update: Ontario judge clears way for brain dead woman to be removed from life support . Unless the family can pay what it takes to keep the machines going then she unfortunately needs to be unplugged. Like. Liked. End of conversation. Back to top ↑.

a person wearing a hat and smiling at the camera: Taquisha McKitty has been declared brain dead but her family says she shows signs of life.© Instagram Taquisha McKitty has been declared brain dead but her family says she shows signs of life.

A lengthy legal battle on whether a Brampton woman can be taken off life support will come to a close this month with a landmark legal decision over who gets to decide what death is.

Taquisha McKitty, 27, has been on life support since September when she went into cardiac arrest following a drug overdose. She was declared neurologically dead by doctors and her death certificate was issued on Sept. 20.

In the nine months since then, her family has been in court arguing that she is alive, and that to pull the plug would go against her Christian beliefs about when life ends.

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- A Toronto-area man waging a legal battle to keep his 27-year-old daughter on life support after she was declared brain dead told an Ontario court Friday that he never had the chance "I do not believe that (brain death ) is a true death , that is not my family ' s faith," he said during cross-examination.

Toronto-area family loses legal fight to keep daughter on life support in landmark decision on what death is . Taquisha McKitty declared brain dead in September. Today' s ruling takes effect in 30 days; may be appealed to Ontario Court of Appeal.

Now the McKitty family's lawyer, Hugh Scher, says a ruling from a Brampton Superior Court is imminent — and the decision could influence how doctors, coroners and families approach the idea of death altogether.

"It raises a serious question as to what is death in Ontario and in Canada. There is no statutory legal definition," said Scher on Metro Morning Tuesday. "We're hopeful this case will provide some guidance."

'No doubt' she's biologically alive: lawyer

Scher and the McKitty family say that beyond breathing and having a heartbeat, Taquisha shows other signs of life — like moving her legs — that prove she's still biologically alive.

"She eats, she drinks, her organs function," said Scher, comparing her to "many other people with a severe neurological impairment."

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Religious beliefs do not recognize brain death as end of life , family argues in court. Judge adjourns case to revoke death certificate for Brampton woman on life - support until next month. ‘She’ s still alive’: Brampton family goes to court to keep daughter on life support .

Being a healthcare proxy and making end -of- life care decisions for someone you love can be challenging. Maybe one family member wants the healthcare team to do everything possible to keep this relative alive.

Also to be determined is the question of how McKitty's faith should factor in, with Scher making the case that individual wishes and values should be taken into account when deciding death.

That line of thinking bears a strong resemblance to another one of Scher's cases, which also has yet to be decided: Shalom Ouanounou, a now deceased 25-year-old .

Ouanounou's family fought to keep him on life support indefinitely after he was declared brain dead on the grounds of his belief in a Jewish law that stipulates death is when the heart stops beating.

2nd GTA case still awaiting decision

a man wearing a suit and tie: Shalom Ouanounou, 25, was a Seneca College student who was described by his family as devoutly religious.© Submitted by Hugh Scher Shalom Ouanounou, 25, was a Seneca College student who was described by his family as devoutly religious.

Though his heart stopped in March, making him dead in the eyes of his family, Ouanounou's case will continue to be considered, and could likely be influenced by the decision in the McKitty case, said Scher in March.

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It has led to false claims that in a system like the NHS the government can decide who lives and dies, however the decision to move to end of life care Alfie’ s condition was not formally diagnosed and this was part of the reason for the fight to keep him on life support , but the judgement was made in

BRAMPTON — A Brampton man waging a legal battle to keep his 27-year-old daughter on life support after she was declared brain dead says he never had the chance to Her family obtained an injunction to keep her on a respirator and conduct more medical tests while it contests that decision .

Of course, many doctors see the issue quite differently, arguing that brain death has been a widely accepted medical standard since the late 1960s.

In November, Dr. Blair Bigham wrote that the heart has a "cruise control" function and can beat close to indefinitely if a respirator is used. He argued that by keeping McKitty and Ouanounou on life support, the grieving process for their families had been put on pause.

"Changing the definition of death won't bring these two back to life," he wrote.

The question of resources

Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist from the University of Toronto, said on Metro Morning that McKitty and Ouanounou's cases raise important questions about the limits of cultural acceptance.

Patients hooked up indefinitely also raise thorny questions about the allocation of resources.

If they are hooked up to a respirator, "in most cases, they are in a critical care bed, in an intensive care unit," he said.

Though individual lives shouldn't be viewed in monetary terms, Bowman said, he believes the country needs to have a "mature conversation on the ethics of resource allocation" in medicine.

Similar concerns were raised in Ouanounou's case, with doctors pointing out that hundreds of thousands of dollars of care and extreme medical interventions — including the use of drugs already in short supply in the hospital system — were extended to someone whom the hospital considered to be dead.

Organ donation is also put into question, said Bowman, believing that if the definition of death becomes murky, "this could erode people's fundamental faith in the organ donation system."

Scher believes that the decision in the McKitty case, already delayed, will be released next week.

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