Who gets to decide when to end life support when a person is brain dead?
The mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead Thursday, three days after undergoing surgery to remove her tonsils, said Tuesday that the family should make the call. CNN's Stephanie Elam reports.
"I don't want her off life support because I really feel like she can wake up," Nailah Winkfield told CNN's Piers Morgan. "I feel like it's just been a rough week for her and, if they just give her some more time, then she'll be able to wake up."
Jahi's family has presented Children's Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, California, with a cease-and-desist letter aimed at preventing the hospital from taking her off a ventilator, attorney Christopher B. Dolan said Tuesday.
"If the hospital wants to terminate Jahi's life, they should go to court and get a judge to authorize that, not pressure a parent into signing a document in the middle of the night or telling them at 8:30 tomorrow morning your child will be (dead)," he told CNN.
Doctors had recommended the tonsillectomy to treat Jahi's sleep apnea, weight gain, inability to concentrate, short attention span and uncontrolled urination, her uncle Omari Sealey told CNN on Monday in a telephone interview.
"They said that she would have more energy, focus more, lose weight, and the urinating would stop," he said.
The surgery, which occurred December 9, initially appeared to have gone well, said Sandy Chatman, Jahi's grandmother who is herself a nurse and saw the girl in the recovery room.
"She was alert and talking, and she was asking for a Popsicle because she said her throat hurt," Chatman said.
But Jahi was then moved to the intensive-care unit, and her relatives were denied access to the eighth-grader for 30 minutes; when they finally were allowed to see her, they knew something was wrong. "Upon entry, they saw that there was way too much blood," Chatman said.
"We kept asking, 'Is this normal?'" Sealey said. "Some nurses said, 'I don't know,' and some said, 'Yes.' There was a lot of uncertainty and a lack of urgency."
Sealey said that when Chatman noticed that her granddaughter's oxygen levels were dangerously low, she called for help.
But Jahi went into cardiac arrest. The medical staff performed chest compressions to revive her and gave her clotting medications, but nothing worked.
On Tuesday, a CT scan revealed that two-thirds of Jahi's brain was swollen.
Sealey said that Jahi's brain had been deprived of oxygen. "Now she is 100% brain damaged," he said. "Medically dead."
CNN could not independently confirm Sealey's account.
When asked about the case, hospital spokeswoman Melinda Krigel cited privacy laws.
A statement from the hospital's chief of pediatrics, Dr. David Durand, read: "Our hearts go out to this patient and her family. Unfortunately, we have not been authorized by the family to share information with the public about this matter. Consequently, we are not able to correct misperceptions created about this sad situation.
"Nonetheless, we want to assure the community that we are doing everything in our capacity to provide support to the grieving family. We have been caring for children in this community for over 100 years and have a longstanding commitment to delivering the highest quality care for all."
Dr. Lisa Thebner, a pediatrician in private practice in New York who was not involved in the case, said excessive bleeding - though rare - is not unheard of in such operations, given that the tonsils are removed from the back of the throat, an area rich in blood vessels.
Still, she said, "This was a highly unusual complication."
When told that his niece was brain dead, Sealey said the entire family went into "complete devastation."
"We pray over her daily," Sealey said. "We kiss her. I charge her iPod and make sure it is in her ears every night when I sleep next to her."
But he said he had accepted that she was legally dead.
An official from the Oakland coroner's office told CNN that Jahi's death was reported Thursday to the office.
"Once a death is reported to us, we have a duty and responsibility to immediately proceed to where the body lies, examine the body, make identification, make inquiry into the circumstances, manner, and means of death, and, as circumstances warrant, either order its removal for further investigation or disposition, or release the body to the next of kin," the official said, quoting California law.
An uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been executed for trying to overthrow the government, the Korean Central News Agency reported early Friday.
"Traitor Jang Song Thaek Executed" blared the headline posted by the state-run news agency about the man who, until recently, had been regarded as the nation's second-most powerful figure.
The story said that a special military tribunal had been held Thursday against the "traitor for all ages," who was accused of trying to overthrow the state "by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods."
It added, "All the crimes committed by the accused were proved in the course of hearing and were admitted by him."
Once his guilt was established, Jang was immediately executed, it said.
The KCNA report described Jang as "despicable human scum" and "worse than a dog," and said he had betrayed his party and leader.
"This is a stunning development," Marcus Noland, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told CNN on Thursday. "I've been following North Korea for 20 years and I do not remember them ever publicly announcing the execution of a senior leader. You hear rumors about it, but this theatrical arrest earlier in the week and now this execution are unprecedented."
He added, "The regime, I think, is trying to intimidate anyone that might have independent ideas or harbor any ambitions."
KCNA's report comes days after Jang was removed from his military post.
Jang, who was married to Kim's aunt, had served as vice chairman of North Korea's top military body and had often been pictured beside the 30-year-old leader, who has ruled North Korea since the death in 2011 of his father, Kim Jong Il.
It has previously been reported that Kim Il Sung - the late father of Kim Jong Il and the architect of the North Korean state - disapproved of Jang's marriage into the family, according to Time Magazine.
In Washington, a State Department official acknowledged having seen the report of Jang's execution. "While we cannot independently verify this development, we have no reason to doubt the official KCNA report," Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement.
"If confirmed, this is another example of the extreme brutality of the North Korean regime. We are following developments in North Korea closely and consulting with our allies and partners in the region," Harf added.
The outlook for dozens of short-finned pilot whales stranded in shallow water off Florida's Everglades National Park "does not look good," wildlife officials said Wednesday.
"We want to set the expectations low" that the 41 remaining stranded whales can be saved, said Blair Mase, a marine mammal scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The assessment came as the number of dead whales climbed to 10, including four euthanized by wildlife officials after being found in "poor condition," Mase said.
Wildlife officials are unsure how long the pod of whales has been stranded. Fishermen spotted the whales, several of which had beached themselves, on Tuesday night in a remote area accessible only by boat off the west coast of the Everglades, park spokeswoman Linda Friar said.
CNN's John Zarrella says, "From the water we could see the rescuers trying to herd the whales, keeping them from heading to the beach where some have already died, moving them towards deeper water."
An attempt earlier in the day to herd the whales out of the park's remote Highland Beach failed.
Rescuers have been using five boats to create a blockade of sorts between the whales and the beach as part of the effort to keep them from beaching and simultaneously encouraging them to make their way back to the Gulf of Mexico, Friar said.
Necropsies were being performed to try to determine why the pod carried out a mass stranding.
"At this point in time, we don't know why this particular group is stranding," Mase said.
And no one is sure how much longer they can survive. "The rescuers will remain out there until they're saved or all hope is gone," Zarrella reports.
But the dilemma is the fact that these whale pods families.
“When some of them are in distress, stranded on the beach and die like those have already done, these other whales that are out there are very, very reluctant to leave.”
Cousteau says rescue efforts are being complicated by a number of factors, including the massive size of the whales, the low tides and the remote location where they are stranded.
“It’s not a clear avenue straight into the ocean; it is a very windy route. And there are sand bars and as the tide goes up and goes down the whales can get stranded on those sand bars and that can compound and make the problem even worse for them.”
Still, “we never give up hope,” he says.
"The appalling facts in the public record shock the conscience and cry out that responsible authorities must take another look," he said, referring to the case of Daisy Coleman in Nodaway County.
"I hope that responsible officials will join me in this call for a grand jury to make the final call on whether criminal charges should or should not be filed," Kinder said.
The case dates to January 8, 2012. But after The Kansas City Star featured the story over the weekend, it gained traction on social media and spread to a wider audience.