Brampton woman’s brain death case dismissed by Ontario court

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An appeal has been dismissed by Ontario’s top court from the family of Bramptonian Taquisha McKitty, who fought to keep her on life support after she was pronounced brain dead.

This ongoing high-profile case revolves around the definition of death and whether accommodations should be made for cases involving religious beliefs.

In the fall of 2017, doctors pronounced the 27-year-old "dead by neurological criteria" as the result of a drug overdose and stated that she should be removed from life support.

Her parents argued that the Christian faith defines death as when the heart stops, and that doctors should take people's beliefs into consideration before declaring them dead.

According to The Canadian Press, Ontario Superior Court Justice Lucille Shaw ruled that individual values cannot interfere with medical findings on June 26, 2018. 

In a report from the Canadian Press on October 9, 2019, it was announced that the court declined McKitty's family's appeal to rule on whether someone's religious beliefs should be considered in the criteria used to determine someone's death.

A unanimous decision concluded that "while death is not defined in law federally or provincially in Ontario, common law considers someone dead when there is irreversible cessation of either cardiorespiratory or brain function."

Similar questions will likely occur in the future, said the ruling, laying out guidelines for the assessment of those arguments, adding that the lower court judge “made several errors."

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