Should not allow ignorance to rule

Asking if Children's Hospital handled the Jahi McMath brain-death issue properly is the wrong question.

Nobody outside the hospital knows exactly what took place medically, and having a family usurp medical authority over all the medical experts involved in this case muddies the medical realities that are Jahi's outcome.

When we allow denial, hopes and beliefs to take precedence over medical reality, we need to ask why people who are ignorant of medicine and science are allowed to become the authorities on, and take control of, a situation about which they know nothing to very little, not if the experts "handled the issue properly."

Amy Altschul

Oakland

Children's Hospital has been callous

I do not believe Children's Hospital officials have handled the Jahi McMath brain-death issue properly. They have said unnecessary things and have been absolutely heartless.

She was under their care and they had the responsibility to make sure she was OK after the surgery. When the mother asked for a doctor while her child bled profusely, nurses said it was normal and gave her suction devices and larger containers.

Children's Hospital should have shown more remorse and taken more responsibility than what they have. They have been very businesslike, cold and callous.

Evelyn Whitten

Concord

Parents, patients must learn the facts first

The strong emotions felt by those involved and following Jahi McMath's case have been sadly misdirected.

I was a former resident of Oakland Children's Hospital. Doctors Durand and Shanahan were my teaching attendings. They are excellent clinicians and caring human beings.

Patients at Oakland Children's are getting the best care possible.

My deepest sympathies go to Jahi's mother. There is no greater grief than the loss of your child.

As a resident, I saw a post tonsillectomy patient bleeding profusely from the mouth/nose. This patient had a life-threatening condition that left doctors no other treatment options. Tonsillectomies should not have been performed on myself or most of my generation for simple recurring sore throats.

I also saw ambulance-chasing attorneys stalking vulnerable families at their bedsides.

Patients/parents must learn the facts. Doctors and patients must listen carefully to each other. Together, we can build a strong trust and keep these unethical attorneys away.

Belita Anatalio

Sunnyvale

Case a good reminder of preciousness of life

The heartbreaking news of Jahi McMath gives us another reminder of how precious life is. Have you, your parents, children or significant other had the conversation?

What might you want done if your spirit was trapped in a lifeless body that will never return? Who would speak for you, if you couldn't? Are you and your family willing to selfishly keep your lifeless child on artificial life support, even if that child told you they would never want to be in a place like that of Jahi?

I've had numerous experiences in end-of-life care, many with good endings, some filled with extremes of confusion, suffering, anxiety and guilt. I found the more patients and family were educated and had an advanced directive in place, peace and dignity often accompanied that process.

Death is truly something we could embrace if an effort was made to have all involved on the same page. All that is left at that time, would be for love that was always intended. Have the conversation.

Michael Kristie

Petaluma

We must live up to societal obligation

Oakland Children's handled the Jahi McMath issue correctly. I took my wife off life support at age 45 without the California death evaluation system because I lived in the Midwest. My recourse was to ask outside friends/medical professionals for an evaluation. Once told she was brain dead, I made the decision based on her request and what was best for society.

After 10 days on life support, it would be selfish if I continued this until she died. This additional time and cost to the medical system would deny others access to care. It's a moral obligation to mankind to give others access to the best possible care if they have a chance.

The last days of a person's life are the most costly to the medical system. Keeping people alive with no hope will never get medical cost under control.

I would like to know the cost of keeping Jahi alive and the resources that could have been used to treat other children who had a realistic chance of survival.

Michael Gibstine

Oakland

Hospital did fine job, many others did not

In our death-denying culture, I believe Children's Hospital handled the Jahi McMath brain-death issue very well. However, it is impossible to know for sure since we do not know how long the hospital waited before informing the family of this devastating news.

Having watched my parents remove life support from my 12-year-old sister who died of leukemia in 1954, I have followed this case with great interest.

Here are the culprits who did not handle the situation well:

Attorney Christopher Dolan, who gave false hope to a vulnerable family; the media for rarely analyzing the newer definitions of death; some churches for giving false hope, relying on a miracle; right-wingers who smeared end-of-life discussions with medical personnel as death panels.

The true miracle would be if these people would take some responsibility for this most unfortunate saga.

Kim S. Wayne

Oakland

Shows the science and religion conflict

The tragic case of Jahi McMath clearly epitomizes the conflict between science and religion.

Science tells us that Jahi is clinically dead -- that her brain is no longer functioning, and that dead nervous tissues never regenerate. Man-made machines may artificially stimulate respiration and circulation, but without such mechanical intervention, all vital signs will cease.

Religion tells us that faith can literally move mountains: "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matt. 21:22)

Our primitive ancestors believed that sickness was caused by demons and devils. They believed that prayer, fasting, shouting, laying on of hands, and anointing with oil were effective ways of driving out demons and restoring health.

A modern American child knows far more about medicine than the wisest wise man of Biblical times.

Jahi's family desperately wants to believe that prayers and other magic will bring her back to life. Sadly, when religious fantasy conflicts with scientific reality, reality generally prevails.

Burt Bogardus

Danville

Such surgery wrong for overweight child

I don't know if this has been mentioned, but I think the biggest error Children's Hospital made in the handling of the Jahi McMath brain-death issue is doing a sleep apnea surgery in the first place on a child who is obviously overweight without requiring her to lose that weight first.

According to the National Sleep Foundation: "The problem of obesity in children is a major concern for another (besides diabetes) reason: the increased incidence of sleep apnea. A 20-year review of obesity-associated diseases among children aged 6 to 17 conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a significant increase in hospital discharges for a number of obesity-related medical conditions. Discharges for sleep apnea increased 436 percent."

To look on the positive side: maybe this is a wake-up call and more people will take seriously that obesity is a big problem in America and take some serious steps to watch their and their children's diet and exercise regimes, and doctors will not perform yet another type of surgery on an overweight or obese patient. I would not want this to happen to another family. A horrible tragedy.

Kim Crow

Danville

Story was told from family's perspective

If the question means by handling the public relations on what happened to Jahi McMath, I believe nothing could have changed the citizens' shock and horror over what happened to this poor child.

As a mother, grandmother and former pediatric nurse, this is everyone's worse nightmare. The hospital would have had to tell the whole story, something their legal counsel undoubtedly advised against. The story was then told from the family perspective.

To say they were shocked and in unbelievable grief as they tried to make sense of this tragedy is an understatement. Sorting out the facts of how this child lost her life would require a court of law, not a newspaper account.

My heart goes out to the family and to the doctors and nurses who fought to save her life. But I am particularly sad for our loss of this sweet girl's promise.

Anne Spanier

Alameda