Father testifies in court fight to keep daughter on life support - InfoNews

Current Conditions

0.4°C

Father testifies in court fight to keep daughter on life support

December 01, 2017 - 1:48 PM

BRAMPTON, Ont. - A Toronto-area man waging a legal battle to keep his 27-year-old daughter on life support after she was declared brain dead told an Ontario court Friday that he never had the chance to tell her doctors about her religious beliefs.

Stanley Stewart acknowledged that he never raised religious objections to brain death in speaking with doctors or in a series of affidavits he filed with the court in his fight to have his daughter's death certificate revoked.

While he could not remember ever explicitly discussing Taquisha McKitty's wishes in case she was deemed brain dead, Stewart told a Brampton, Ont., court he knows his daughter believed a person is alive as long as their heart still beats because that's what he taught her growing up.

"I do not believe that (brain death) is a true death, that is not my family's faith," he said during cross-examination.

“That was the view that I was raised on … and that's the same value system that I passed on to my four children and my granddaughter as well," he said. "(McKitty) understood, she has a daughter and through her daughter she has continued that same philosophy."

The family's lawyer argues declaring McKitty dead based on neurological criteria contravenes her religious beliefs and therefore amounts to discrimination.

"In concluding that Taquisha is 'dead,' the respondent has only applied medical criteria without regard to Taquisha's express religious beliefs," Hugh Scher wrote in his submissions to the court.

"Such consideration is essential to respect for the multicultural fabric of Canadian society, and for the deep respect our society accords to the firmly held religious beliefs of every person."

Doctors treating McKitty failed to inquire about her beliefs and values before assessing her for brain death, effectively imposing their own values on her, Scher said.

Other jurisdictions, including the states of New York and New Jersey, make accommodations for religious beliefs in determining when death occurs, he said, suggesting Ontario should do the same.

The lawyer representing McKitty's doctor, meanwhile, said the family only recently brought up the issue of religion after initially arguing their relative simply did not meet the criteria for brain death.

"There are no facts asserting as to Ms. McKitty's religious beliefs" in any of the affidavits filed by her father, the engine behind the legal challenge, Erica Baron said.

Court has heard McKitty was admitted to hospital in mid-September after overdosing on drugs and was declared brain dead days later after her condition worsened and she stopped breathing on her own.

Her family obtained an injunction to keep her on a respirator and conduct more medical tests while it contests that decision.

The judge overseeing the case recently denied the family's bid to record McKitty's movements for 72 hours, saying there was no medical or scientific evidence to show such a test would be helpful.

The family had sought to film McKitty because they believed it would better allow doctors to determine if her movements were spinal reflexes or something more.

Three Toronto-area doctors, including the one who declared McKitty brain dead, have told the court the movements should not be interpreted as signs of life.

A California neurologist submitted an affidavit saying that while he could not say with certainty the movements were reflexes, other tests conducted suggested they likely were.

Closing submissions are expected to continue Monday.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

  • Popular vernon News
  • Comments
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile