Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Taquisha McKitty, who was declared brain dead in September 2017, died a natural death.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Taquisha McKitty with daughter.
Taquisha McKitty, of Brampton, who was declared brain dead in September 2017, after a cardiac arrest related to a drug overdose, died of natural causes on December 31, 2018.

In September 2017 CP 24 reported that Taquisha's father told them:
“if you are there with her and you touch her and you grab her feet, she will pull her feet from you” and “if you tickle her she will move her feet.”
McKitty's family argued that Taquisha was alive based on her movements and other signs of life and their religious beliefs. See video below.

The lawyer for the family, Hugh Scher, told CBC news in mid-December that in some jurisdictions Taquisha would be considered alive Scher stated to CBC news that:
"Taquisha remained alive in Nova Scotia, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere, but according to the [Ontario Superior Court] she is dead in Ontario."
Taquisha's family challenged the declaration of brain death and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition intervened in the case based on the arbitrary nature of brain death decisions in Ontario.

Hugh Scher, lawyer for the McKitty family
On June 26, 2018 Ontario Superior Court Justice, Lucille Shaw, disagreed with the family and ordered that Life-Support be withdrawn from Taquisha in 30 days.

Taquisha's family prevented the removal of life-support  by appealing the court decision. 
According to Hugh Scher, the McKitty family lawyer:
...Justice Shaw erred “by applying a legal definition of death that fails to conform with a biological definition of death.” 
...the court erred by not allowing independent experts to videotape to assess McKitty’s movements, which “differ in nature, quality and duration from spinal cord reflexes.”
Shaw’s ruling stated that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not apply to McKitty, because it only protects “persons,” and because McKitty is clinically brain dead, is not legally a “person.” Scher argued in the appeal that:
This puts the cart before the horse, because McKitty’s Charter rights were breached in order to pronounce her dead. 
“The Court’s predetermination of Taquisha’s death to justify non-application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms ... dehumanizes Taquisha as a non-person from the outset,” 
“Taquisha is an individual under the law deserving of Charter protection.” 
Justice Shaw also focused on financial reasons for withdrawing treatment from McKitty. 

Scher stated in a CBC news interview in May 2018 that:
"(the case) raises a serious question as to what is death in Ontario and in Canada. There is no statutory legal definition"
Scher and the McKitty family said that beyond breathing and having a heartbeat, Taquisha showed other signs of life — like moving her legs — that proved that she was still biologically alive. Scher told CBC news last May:
"She eats, she drinks, her organs function,"
Scher, compared her to "many other people with a severe neurological impairment."

CP 24 reported that Hugh Scher said that he is hopeful that the court of appeal will still render a ruling on the case, which he said represents an important opportunity to “clarify the legal definition of death in Ontario.”

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