The family of the late Teri Schiavo is getting involved and offering support to the family of Jahi McMath, the teenager at the center of a dispute about the use of life support. Schiavo herself was at the center of a similar dispute, although Schiavo's case ended differently than the family wanted.
"Together with our team of experts, Terri's Network believes Jahi's case is representative of a very deep problem within the U.S. healthcare system – particularly those issues surrounding the deaths of patients within the confines of hospital corporations, which have a vested financial interest in discontinuing life," the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network said in an official statement.
Right now, Jahi's family is racing against the clock to move the 13-year-old to a long-term care facility where she can remain on life support. They fully believe that she is capable of making a recovery, even though doctors have declared her brain dead. They have until January 7 to finalize plans to move Jahi before Children's Hospital Oakland has the legal right to turn off her life support.
The McMath family has alleged that Children's Hospital Oakland "refused to agree" to let them move her to New York, but the hospital denied that allegation.
"We have done everything to assist the family of Jahi McMath in their quest to take the deceased body of their daughter to another medical facility. To date, they have been unwilling or unable to provide a physician to perform the procedures necessary, transportation, or a facility that would accept a dead person on a ventilator. Our hearts and thoughts go out to them in this tragic situation, but the statements being made by their attorney and some family members are misleading and untrue," hospital spokesman Sam Singer said.
Terri Schiavo was at the center of a controversial court case after being kept on a feeding tube for more than a decade. She suffered severe brain damage, and her husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, fought for her right to die with dignity. Her parents, however, fought to keep her alive via the feeding tube. Michael eventually won the right to have the feeding tube removed, and Terri died soon after.
"Families and individuals must make themselves aware of what so-called 'brain death' is and what is not," a quote from Bobby Schindler, Terri's brother and director of the Life & Hope Network said. "Every person needs to understand that medical accidents happen every day. Families and individuals must be more aware of the issue of accountability and patient rights."