While Jahi McMath is now definitively dead, the ongoing federal and state lawsuits brought by the McMath family may still clarify or alter traditional understandings of brain death. But even without any judgments or verdicts, the cases have already had an enormous impact.
The McMath cases have very publicly demonstrated that families can successfully resist brain death diagnoses. I have written about this. Furthermore, just yesterday, McMath attorney Chris Dolan said that “he has fielded more than a dozen inquiries from families, around the world, asking for help battling a brain death declaration.”
There has always been a “crack” in the door of brain death. The McMath cases have opened that door a bit further, showing other families that they can: (a) refuse permission to conduct brain death tests, (b) dispute the accuracy of tests already conducted, (c) deny the legal validity of brain death tests, or (d) assert religious objections.