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Brain-dead woman’s movements ‘very unusual,’ neurologist tells hearing

Last Updated Nov 30, 2017 at 6:09 pm EDT

The family of Taquisha Desiree McKitty, 27, filed an injunction after doctors at Brampton Civic Hospital declared her brain dead and signed her death certificate on Sept. 20, 2017. CITYNEWS

More than two months after a 27-year-old Brampton mother was declared dead, her family continues the legal battle to keep her on life support.

At a hearing in a Brampton court on Thursday, a neurologist from Toronto Western Hospital who recently examined Taquisha McKitty testified he had “never seen anything like this before.”

Dr. Peter Carlen was hired by McKitty’s family and qualified to testify.

Carlen described her movements as “complex and still occurring,” six weeks after she was declared dead.

He told the court it was “very unusual” because after three days, there is usually no movement.

He had no explanation for this.

Carlen said he saw movements and — if one accepts there is no brain activity — you could argue the movements came from the spinal cord.

The family’s lawyer, Hugh Scher, asked if there is a way to prove it is spinal cord activity.

“I don’t know how one could prove that,” Carlen said.

Carlen suggested maybe a functional MRI of the area could be used to test, but he wasn’t sure. He said it’s an experimental procedure and he’s not an expert in the area.

McKitty was admitted to hospital after a drug overdose and declared dead on Sept. 20 by Dr. Omar Hayani at Brampton Civic Hospital. Her brain had stopped functioning and that constitutes death in Ontario.

McKitty’s family, however, argued she is moving voluntarily and is not brain dead.

Her family won an injunction to keep her on life support while they challenge the issue of brain death.

Bishop Wendell Brereton, a family friend, said outside court that McKitty’s constitutional rights have been violated by an arbitrary standard of death that does not include a person’s religious or spiritual beliefs.

McKittys movements have been observed by doctors and nurses who explained them as spinal reflexes, not a sign of brain activity.

McKitty remains on life support while the legal battle continues.

Her family says her movements have increased and are changing. They hope she can receive treatment to help her brain to heal.

The hearing continues on Friday.

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