Episode 2: The Girl Who Died Twice

Episode 2: The Girl Who Died Twice

The line between life and death isn’t always as clear as you might think. When a 13 year-old girl from Oakland named Jahi McMath was pronounced brain dead after a surgical complication in 2013, California issued her a death certificate. Five years later, she received a second death certificate in New Jersey. How could one person die twice? We learn about the history and ethics of “brain death” and hear from a Harvard physician who explains how Jahi’s case is an example of the consequences of an unclear definition of brain death.

About the Experts

This episode features interviews with:

Jeffrey Kahn

Andreas C. Dracopolous Director
Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Robert Truog, MD, MA

Director Emeritus
Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics

Yolonda Wilson, PhD

Associate Professor
Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics, Saint Louis University

Additional Resources

This episode references a New Yorker article about Jahi’s case, which you can read here. It also references the Uniform Determination of Death Act, which you can read here. In 2022, it was announced that the Act was being revised for the first time. Updates will be announced in 2023.

Discussion Questions

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Suggested Readings

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