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Brampton woman whose family fought to keep her on life support has died
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Monday, December 31, 2018 4:07PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 31, 2018 4:13PM EST
A brain-dead Brampton woman who became the subject of a protracted legal battle due to her family’s desire to keep her on life support has passed away.
Doctors ruled that then 27-year-old Taquisha McKitty was "dead by neurological criteria" on Sept. 20, 2017, one week after she was rushed to hospital following a drug overdose.
Her family, however, objected to the ruling and fought in court to keep McKitty on life support.
In June, the family’s legal case was dealt a blow when the Ontario Superior Court ruled that McKitty was legally dead and could be taken off life support but they chose to appeal the decision and had made arguments before the Ontario Court of Appeal earlier this month.
According to the family’s lawyer Hugh Scher, McKitty ultimately died of “natural causes” early Monday morning after “her heart stopped beating.”
In a statement Scher said that he is hopeful that the court of appeal will still render a ruling on McKitty’s case, which he said represents an important opportunity to “clarify the legal definition of death in Ontario.”
“This courageous lady and her family have pursued a tireless fight for respect for religious liberty and equality and respect for her devout Christian beliefs that recognize death as cardiorespiratory and not neurological death,” he said. “The appeal gives the Court the opportunity to clarify the legal definition of death in Ontario and what role that the values of dignity, autonomy, religious liberty and equality, as well as respect for and accommodation of individual wishes, values and beliefs will play in that determination.”
McKitty’s father had contended that his daughter was alive because she continued to breathe with the support of a respirator and sometimes appeared to move on her own.
In September, 2017 he told CP24 that “if you are there with her and you touch her and you grab her feet, she will pull her feet from you” and “if you tickle her she will move her feet.”
The family also argued that due to Mckitty’s Christian beliefs, death should be defined as the moment that her heart stops beating. But in her written decision in June, Ontario Superior Court Justice Lucille Shaw said that “the medical determination of death cannot be subject to an individual's values and beliefs.”
“Death is a finding of fact,” she wrote. “To import subjectivity to the definition of death would result in a lack of objectivity, certainty and clarity."
In a statement released on Monday afternoon, the William Osler Health System said that it offered its “deepest condolences” to McKitty’s family.
“While we will not comment on specifics, we can say that all cases of this nature are tragic, and our hearts go out to families and loved ones in these situations. We continue to speak directly with the family to provide support,” the statement reads.