A 14-year-old survivor of a mass shooting in Michigan escaped death twice in the past week.
The teen, identified as 14-year-old Abigail Kopf, was one of several people who were shot at a Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel on Saturday, according to CNN. Four others were killed at the restaurant and two others at a car dealership. The gunman, allegedly Jason Brian Dalton, has been charged with six counts of murder, the report states.
Abigail Kopf is in critical condition at the Bronson Methodist Children’s Hospital, and she already escaped two very close calls with death, according to ABC News. The first was during the shooting, the second at the hospital.
Shortly after arriving at the hospital, Kopf was declared brain dead, Michigan State Police Lt. Dale Hinz told the news outlet.
A few hours later, hospital staff were preparing her body for organ donation – when she squeezed her mother’s hand, Hinz said. Kopf’s mother asked her to squeeze her hand again if the teen could hear her, and she did, he said. Then the doctor asked Kopf to give a thumbs up, and she lifted both thumbs in response, the officer said.
Then, the hospital staff quickly switched processes and began preparing the girl for surgery, Hinz said.
The family later said Abigail remains in critical condition at the hospital.
“Our daughter’s prognosis is uncertain as she continues fighting for her life,” they said in a statement.
Hospital medical director Dr. Aaron Lane-Davies told CNN said Kopf’s condition has been relatively stable in the past few days, and her responsiveness to her family and doctors has been good.
Authorities said they are unsure of the shooter’s motives.
“This is every community’s nightmare, when you have someone going around just randomly killing people, no rhyme, no reason,” Kalamazoo County prosecuting attorney Jeff Getting said.
Stories like Abigail Kopf’s have left some questioning whether some doctors give up on life too early.
In January, a Reno, Nevada college student named Hanna Lottritz said doctors thought she was brain dead after she passed out from a night of binge drinking. But 24 hours later, Lottritz woke up from her coma.
Similarly, Jahi McMath, a young girl declared brain dead, remains alive more than two years after doctors tried to take her off life support. McMath’s family launched a legal battle against the hospital to keep her alive. LifeNews reported that at least three doctors so far say that the young girl, who remains in a hospital, is not brain dead.
These stories point to the life-threatening consequences of a brain death misdiagnosis. When doctors use the term “brain dead,” it’s usually a sign that they believe the patient has no hope of recovery and is basically dead.
But the diagnosis can be widely controversial. “Brain dead” diagnoses have launched public legal battles between hospitals and families over whether the patient really is brain dead and whether they deserve medical care. In many cases, the patients have died; but in others, they have lived or recovered.