Bioethics Blogs

Aden Hailu – Hospital Tells Supreme Court She Is Dead

The hospital has just filed its Answering Brief in the Aden Hailu case before the Supreme Court of Nevada.

In short, a few weeks back, a Nevada trial court found that Hailu was dead as of nearly five months ago (April 2015).  But due to a series of stipulations and court stays, Hailu remains on physiological support at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

This is appellate review of a fact issue determination.  Therefore, the Supreme Court must affirm, so long as the trial court’s finding is supported by substantial evidence.  Here, the trial court’s finding of death is supported not only by “substantial” evidence but by the overwhelming weight of the evidence.

Finally, Nevada law requires that a “determination of death . . . must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.”  The family argues that the American Academy of Neurology guidelines do not qualify.  But that seems like a fanciful argument.  There may be good arguments to reexamine those guidelines.  There may be variability in their application.  But the guidelines are surely “accepted.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.