It’s another devastating battle over life support. After seventeen-year-old Treasure Perry suffered from a severe allergic reaction and asthma attack, she was pronounced brain dead. Despite this, Treasure’s mother, Angela Kosarue, didn’t want to give up. The doctors at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis wanted to remove her daughter from life support and she needed to find another facility for Treasure before the deadline. “God can work a miracle, but I know it’s down to the wire,” she said, hours before the expiration of the temporary restraining order, which prevented doctors from withdrawing life support.
Mother Doesn’t Give Up on Her Daughter’s Life
Initially, the court gave Treasure more time on the ventilator, stating that “the injury suffered by the Plaintiff will be irreparable, in that if life-sustaining measures are terminated, the Plaintiff will likely be deceased.” But the judge at the next court session several days later did not extend the restraining order’s deadline. By the next day, the hospital took Treasure off of life support. 
“She was an amazing niece, sister, aunt, daughter and granddaughter,” said Skylee Kosarue, Treasure’s aunt. “We never gave up on her — the doctors failed her and us.” Kosarue described her daughter as strong-willed and “so loving and full of life“. She was working to save up for a car before her senior year of high school. She dreamed of playing basketball in college despite her asthma.
Read: If I’d Listened To My Doctor, I Would Be Dead Right Now
Before the deadline, Angela Kosarue had been desperate to find another hospital that’d provide care for her daughter. However, she faced a major roadblock. Her lawyers explained that other facilities won’t admit Treasure because she hadn’t undergone a tracheotomy; it’s a surgery that creates a hole in the windpipe to improve respiration in cases where regular breathing is difficult. It’s commonly recommended for patients who need ventilators long-term. However, Riley Hospital won’t perform the tracheotomy since Treasure has been deemed clinically dead.
All of this misfortune began on July 23. Kosarue explained that her daughter was working at her restaurant job when she had a severe allergic reaction to shellfish, which triggered her asthma. Those at the restaurant called an ambulance; no one there was able to help her. Over a week later, on August 2, doctors declared her brain death.
But Kosarue didn’t give up until they pulled the plug. She considered her daughter alive and believed her health would improve. She even said Treasure was starting to improve, with signs like squeezing her mother’s hand “like a quick couple of seconds” and her pupils responded to light. Taking her off life support went against Kosarue’s beliefs. “I believe when your heart stops beating and your body shuts down is when you’re dead,” she said.
What is Considered Brain Death?
Most medical experts maintain that brain death is considered death, but it’s not the same as a coma or a vegetative state. A coma is an unresponsive state that results from a brain injury or severe illness. Patients don’t speak or open their eyes or make purposeful movements. Some may need ventilators, some not. In this state, patients can pass away, regain consciousness, or sometimes go into a vegetative state. Now vegetative state patients have decreased consciousness and brain stem function. They can breathe on their own, respond to pain and noises, make involuntary motions, and progress through sleep-wake cycles. They can also regain consciousness but this chance decreases the longer they are in this state. Meanwhile, brain death is defined as the ceasing of all functions in the brain and brain stem. Doctors state that patients who are brain dead have no chance of waking up. 
Angela Kosarue’s fight for her daughter’s life support is one story among many. Many religious sects do not accept brain death as death as was the case of Archie Battersbee in England. The Christian 12-year-old suffered traumatic brain injuries in April. His health status turned into a legal battle as his parents fought to keep him on life support after the doctors suspected he may be brain stem dead. His parents maintained that Archie needed more time to heal and wanted their religious beliefs to receive more consideration by the court and the doctors. However, the hospital won the case and Archie was taken off of life support on August 6. 
The Rare Miracle
Another recent and similar case ended with surprisingly happy news. Nineteen-year-old Lewis Roberts suffered major injuries in a car accident in March 2021. Doctors told his family he had brain-stem death and they agreed to donate his organs. Roberts stayed on life support while the family waited for the procedure. During this time, he miraculously squeezed his sister’s hand. After months of intensive treatment that will continue for five years minimum, his condition slowly improves. About six months after the accident, he slowly regained his speech abilities.
Roberts’ miracle case caused the UK’s Intensive Care Society to update procedures to “alert clinicians to the need to take extra diagnostic caution if a similar circumstance ever arose again in the future“. The hospital who cared for Roberts said the doctors had followed the national clinical guidelines when declaring him brain-stem dead. So when “the rarest of events occur” like this, national guidelines are reviewed to incorporate any needed changes. 
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- “Her daughter was declared dead. Despite hospital objections, she believes she was alive.” NBC News. Erik Oritz. August 11, 2022
- “The Challenges of Defining and Diagnosing Brain Death.” Johns Hopkins. Karen Nitkin. November 7, 2017
- “Archie Battersbee: How did life support battle end up in court?” BBC News. August 6, 2022.
- “’Miracle’ teen recovering after Leek van crash.” BBC News. April 25.