Episode 2: The Girl Who Died Twice

Episode 2: The Girl Who Died Twice

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? In this episode, we learn that the line between life and death isn’t always as clear as you might think.

About the Experts

This episode features interviews with:

Jeffrey Kahn

Andreas C. Dracopolous Director
Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Robert Truog, MD, MA

Frances Glessner Lee Distinguished Professor of Medical Ethics, Anesthesia, and Pediatrics
Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital

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 (UDDA), which you can read here.

In 2023, recommendations for updates to UDDA were released by the American College of Physicians and a consensus statement was published by the American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Pediatrics, Child Neurology Society, and Society of Critical Care Medicine.

The Greenwall Foundation. Making bioethics integral to decisions in healthcare, policy and research. Learn more at greenwall.org.

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