Color me surprised when I discovered that the family of Jahi McMath were still using the courts to keep their daughter alive.
Background: Jahi was a thirteen years old girl who underwent surgery three years ago to remove her tonsils to cure her sleep apnea. During the surgery, Jahi lost a great deal of blood and went into cardiac arrest. Though the medical staff were able to stabilize her, her brain had suffered irreparable damage from oxygen deprivation. After several weeks of no improvement or brain activity, requiring a ventilator to breathe, tubes to feed, and myriad other equipment for her body to function, the doctors advised Jahi’s parents to remove her from life support as there was little to no hope that Jahiwould ever recover. Her parents instead opted for a court order to force the hospital to keep her alive despite physicians protests.
What has transpired since has been a farce. The parents moved Jahi to New Jersey as the state refuses to pull the plug on patient’s if their family’s religious objections forbid it. New Jersey Medicare has been forced to pick up part of the cost with the family likely pursuing legal action to force the practice responsible for her surgery to pick up the remainder of her bills in perpetuity. The family is adamant, despite three years of no improvement, that their daughter will one day simply wake up and be normal again.
This is an issue that is maddening. There is this foolish belief that EVERYONE is entitled to unlimited resources despite the situation, the long term prognosis, and the cost involved. This may surprise many, but hospitals are struggling to create the beds to receive an ever growing patient demand, to find staff to relieve an already overburdened work force, to afford the supplies and medication necessary, and to hire new doctors to replace an aging/shrinking pool. People do not realize how strained the system currently is, especially since Obamacare gave 20 million people access to health insurance but did nothing to grow the infrastructure to support this increase. Already waiting lists are growing, the only thing that seems to grow in modern healthcare.
When people scream about how they or someone they know deserve millions of dollars in care to fight diseases and injuries that are incurable, it is not only irrational; it is irresponsible. Because most do not understand the cost of healthcare or the decisions that have to be made, they assume some utopian visionthat hospitals can help everyone and are just too greedy to do so. People, that is a lie. For the millions that are wasted on people like Jahi, people who will never get better and to just survive is the goal, those who need real care suffer. Hospitals have closed because they can’t function financially with the practices of Medicare/Medicaid (you have to take our patients but we will only reimburse you 60%). Programs have been slashed or dissolved, such as early intervention for autism. Facilities have had to put off hiring new staff, renovating, buying new equipment, etc. This is COST. To do this, you have to sacrifice that. Resources are finite. That is the reality.
I’m sorry, but everything has a value despite the poetic view that life is priceless. When you see others suffer as resources that could make a difference to dozens of lives are squandered on a single person in futility, you start to question the selfishness of people. Many cry out, “Well if it was your child,” using worst case scenarios and emotional blackmail to shame you into silence. If it was my child I wouldn’t want them to suffer indefinitely due to my inability to come to grips with my grief. if it was my child, I would want to know that if they had to die, others would gain from that sacrifice. I would not morbidly hang on as the ripples of my stubbornness muddied the waters.
There is value to life. Not simply financial. To subject it to a husk hooked up to machines. That is not life. There is no value in that.