Taquisha McKitty will have been brain dead for more than two months by the time an Ontario court next meets to decide whether doctors should be able to take her off life support.
On Tuesday a court in Brampton adjourned the case, which has constitutional implications, until November 30.
The 27-year-old Brampton mother was declared brain dead by doctors on Sept. 20.
Her supporters say there is still hope. They’ve released video showing McKitty’s body attached to a ventilator, moving in her hospital bed.
On Monday, after weeks of reporting on the protests and court case surrounding McKitty, CityNews reporter Cristina Howorun was able to see the woman herself for the first time.
“What really struck me is that she didn’t appear to be stiff, she appeared to be comfortable in the bed,” reports Howorun.
“She was still. When we walked in, her father touched her leg and spoke to her, and she immediately started responding – we saw her torso move, we saw her legs move. That continued through our entire visit, she was moving the entire time, at least whenever she was spoken to, or when her father was discussing the machines she was hooked up to, or talking about her. She seemed to be aware.”
— Cristina Howorun (@CityCristinaH) November 7, 2017
McKitty’s physicians say that her movements are typical for patients who are brain dead, and that they’re the result of spinal cord reflexes.
There is no legal definition of death in Ontario. Lawyer Hugh Scher says that needs to change. He represents two religious families that are fighting to have their loved ones’ death declarations overturned.
Cases like McKitty’s raise constitutional questions about how a patient’s religious beliefs (or lack of clear beliefs) should be factored in when physicians declare death, or decide to withdraw life support.
“All that we are going by here are these medical guidelines that have been established back in 2003 and 2006,” says Scher. “They’re not the law. Legislators determine the law, courts determine the law. Doctors can apply medical criteria to determine brain function … but they’re not there to play God.”