It is only natural to compare the Marlise Munoz and Jahi McMath cases. Their similarities are striking – parallel timing, dual diagnoses of brain death and the unspeakable, shocking nature of the events. Their differences are equally intriguing – one family desperate to continue medical interventions, the other fighting to withdraw them.

The cases, both their similarities and differences, have much to teach us about the oft-avoided realm of end-of-life decision-making. Jahi was a 13-year-old girl from Oakland who suffered a rare and devastating complication of tonsil surgery. Marlise was a pregnant woman in Texas who was struck down, probably by a blood clot in her lungs, while getting a bottle for her 2-year-old. Both were people with so much to live for, one a young girl, the other a pregnant woman.

Both had dead brains, the cells ruptured, never to regenerate.

But through a trick of modern science, both bodies’ hearts continued to beat, feeding off oxygen that was being forced into them by breathing machines. If not for this superhuman technology, both would have been buried long ago.

But this is where the similarities end. The families responded to their tragedies as if living in two different worlds. While one prayed for life, the other prayed for death. While one tried to grieve and move on, the other tried desperately not to. (…) Read Full Article Here

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