Takashi Mekuti, the woman at the heart of the legal battle over the legitimacy of brain death in Ontario, died on Monday with her brother on her side.
Her heart stopped beating at about 2 o'clock. The family members kept watch with Ms. Mackettie, since she entered the hospital more than a year ago. Her father, Stanley Stewart, has just left.
"They did not pull the plug on it," Stuart told The Globe and Mail on Monday afternoon. "She died naturally, and that's what we ultimately wanted, if that's what would be the case." As soon as he heard that Mrs. Mackyth's condition had deteriorated around 1:45 pm, he returned to Grafton Brampton Hospital, but his daughter died before he arrived there.
Ms McKee was found unconscious on the sidewalk in September 2017. The 27-year-old busy with a cocktail of drugs on the street, and the first respondents could not find a pulse. The doctors got Mrs. McKee to breathe again to the ventilator, but the swelling in her brain continued to cut off oxygen and cause damage.
She was pronounced dead six days later. Ontario leaves the definition of death to doctors who consider patients brain dead when they no longer have the capacity for awareness and can not breathe without help.
But her family struggled with the declaration, saying that while her heart was beaten-even with medical help-they believed she was alive.
Their refusal to discontinue support for life began the long, costly and possible struggle with precedent in the first courts in Ontario. The question of what constitutes death, and who decides when that line has crossed, has no clear legislative response in most of Canada. Science and religion clash with the idea, as some Muslims, Orthodox Jews and Christians, such as Mrs. McCutti's family, believe that death of the brain does not conform to their religious definition of death. The doctors were concerned that, if the family was successful at any level and more attention was paid to family beliefs, public confidence in doctors could be reduced.
Mackythy's story is among the cases in the world that faced the challenge of whether doctors or families should tell when death occurred and whether brain death can not be negotiated. Mr Stuart believes that the court challenge is what his daughter would do if the masses had turned. "Taquisha always believed in the right and wrong," he said. "I know if she is alive, and that was another family member, and things went on as they did with her, she will be with us fighting the fight for the other person."
Taquisha Deseree McKitty was born in 1990 to Mr. Stuart and Alison McKee. "She was just a loving, caring man," said Mr. Stuart. She was the "Keesha" of the family – a bright student in French-immersion from a kindergarten that played football, not gymnastics and taekwondo. She later found a paradise in techno music, chasing pulsing strokes to music festivals in Toronto. At the age of 17, she gave birth to a girl named Kya, who stopped her high school studies to be a mother. She returned to school, finishing one year at the Humber College cosmetic program but struggling with the use of drugs, especially in the year before her overdose. She discussed possible options for help with her father.
While taking their case through the courts, Mackythy's family was on a constant rotation of visits to the Brampton Hospital. Last week, during Christmas, the family gathered for their usual holidays. Mr Stuart gave up after dinner, however, to spend hours with his daughter. A Star Hospital peeked with Mrs. McCutti's daughter: "I want you mother to wake up!"
The family were awaiting a verdict from the Court of Appeal in Ontario, on which they filed the case earlier in December, after the Supreme Court's legal department decided not to keep Ms McKee on support for life in June. Lawyer Hugh Cher says the family still hopes to give judgment to provide clarity and guidance to other families and hospitals in the province.
"This brave lady and her family have been leading a tireless struggle for respecting religious freedom and equality and respect for her faithful Christian beliefs," he said.
The plans for burial have not yet been finalized, but the family hopes to hold a simple ceremony next week. "We do not want to keep it more than it should be," said Mr. Stuart. "For a long time it goes through a lot, and we just want to put it on vacation."