Is Brain Dead Really Dead?

Have some of you had a family member or friend that was declared brain dead following an accident, heart attack or other reasons? Doctors say they are certain that the person no longer has any brain function left and they are only being kept alive by all of the expensive machines. Telling the family that there is no hope for recovery they push the family to pull the plugs and tubes and allow the person to die.

Probably the most infamous case was that of Terry Schiavo. In 1990, she suffered a cardiac arrest at home. First responders managed to resuscitate her but doctors soon diagnosed her as having massive brain damage caused by the lack of oxygen to the brain before she was resuscitated. Several months later doctors said that Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state. They tried a number of different therapies over the next several years without any signs of progress.

In 1998, Schiavo’s husband petitioned the courts to have the feeding tube removed which would allow her to starve to death. Terry’s parents filed their own petition to block that of her husband, saying that allowing her to starve to death was cruel. Additionally, her mom said that there were times when Terry would make eye contact and squeeze her hand, but it wasn’t often and doctors couldn’t get her to do it on command.

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The legal battle between her husband Michael Schiavo and Terry’s parents continued until Michael finally won in 2005. The feeding tube was removed on March 18, 2005 and Terry slowly starved to death and died 13 days later on March 31.

The battle her parents waged was one of having hope that Terry would eventually improve, but their hope ended when their daughter died. No one will ever know if Terry was able to perceive the world around her or not. She was able to breathe on her own and needed no additional life support other than the feeding tube.

We’ve all heard of instances where someone had been in a coma for years and they suddenly wake up. Doctors give up hope and yet some people miraculously recover.

Knowing this, what would you do if one of your children were pronounced to be brain dead and in a short period of time, doctors pushed you to pull the plug? Would you give up hope and end their lives or would you want more time to see if there would be any improvement? If you believed in your heart that there was hope, what length would you go to to prevent others from pulling the plug on your child?

That’s the decision that George Pickering Jr. faced in January 2014. His 27 year old son, George Pickering III suffered a massive stroke. It didn’t take long for doctors to diagnose him as being brain dead and almost immediately order that he undergo terminal weaning of his life support. Most of the family agreed, but George’s dad said he knew in his gut that his son was not brain dead and would recover, so he asked for more time, but was denied any more time.

Realizing that if he didn’t do something, his son would be dead within hours so he went home, retrieved his gun, returned to his son’s hospital room and barricaded himself inside. After the standoff, George Jr. told the media:

“They were moving too fast. The hospital, the nurses, the doctors. I knew if I had three or four hours that night that I would know whether George was brain-dead.”

George Jr. held hospital staff and police at bay for three hours, seeking the time he needed to know for certain if his son was truly brain dead or if there was a chance he would recover. Eventually, law enforcement managed to disarm the father who continued to try to barricade himself by his son’s side and threatened anyone who tried to turn off the life support.

Then George III squeezed his father’s hand three times on command. Phoebe Smith, the Pickering’s family attorney, described what happened next:

“The SWAT team had their own doctors and when they entered into the critical care room, they saw that my client’s son was not brain dead because he was making eye contact (and) was following their commands. They were completely amazed.”

Knowing his son was not brain dead and showed signs of consciousness, George Jr. surrendered to police. He was charged and convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and ended up serving a year and half in jail.

During that year and half in jail, George III, made a full recovery from his massive stroke and embraced his father upon his released from jail a few days ago. Smith commented:

“When you see him now, he is a picture of health. I don’t think he would have survived but for the fact that his father slowed the process down.”

George III added:

“There was a law broken, but it was broken for all the right reasons. and I’m here now because of it.  It was love, it was love. The important thing is I’m alive and well, my father is home and we’re together again.”

Bobby Schindler, brother of Terry Schiavo and President of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network commented on what happened with the Pickerings, telling LifeSiteNews:

“Almost every day we see our rights to make medical decisions for our loved ones eroding.”

“Sadly, it resorted to a father having to use the threat of violence to afford time for his son to have that chance to improve. While violence is never the answer and cannot be tolerated, one can understand the unconditional love parents have for their children and wanting nothing more than to give them the chance to recover.”

One of the things that drove the doctors to make such a hasty decision is that George III was an organ donor. The doctors had already notified an organ donation organization to be ready to receive the son’s organs, before they had final permission to stop life support. I know that organ donations need to move quickly, but George III’s organs would have survived inside of him for hours until life support was pulled, so there really wasn’t any reason to rush to pull the plug.

Doctors are human and there is a reason they refer to what they do as ‘practicing medicine.’ A friend of mine who is a doctor once told me that when he believes he is no longer practicing medicine and knows everything about it, that’s the day someone needs to take away his medical license.

Put yourself in the same situation that George Pickering Jr. faced and ask yourself what would you do if you knew in your heart that your child was not brain dead and had a chance of recovering? Would you risk going to jail if in your heart you knew the doctors are wrong?

Sometimes I wonder if it’s not your gut talking to you but the Lord telling you to have faith and not give up. The Pickering family is glad that George Jr. listened to the Lord instead of the doctors and I’m pretty sure they had a VERY joyous Christmas together celebrating the birth of Jesus all because George Jr. listened to Him.

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