Hospital says teenager shot in murder spree was not declared brain dead

By Dave Andrusko

Abigail Kopf

Abigail Kopf

On Monday we posted a story about a glimmer of light in the horrific weekend in Kalamazoo, Michigan in which a Uber driver stands accused of murdering six people.

A number of stories, which NRL News Today quoted accurately, said that 14-year-old Abigail Kopf had been shot Saturday in a Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel parking lot and pronounced brain dead shortly after arriving at Bronson Methodist Hospital.

But as Michigan State Police Lt. Dale Hinz told ABC News Today

Her family told the lieutenant that an hour or two later, the hospital was in the process of preparing her organs for donation when the girl squeezed her mother’s hand…

The mother then asked her daughter to squeeze her hand again if she could hear her, and she did, Hinz said. The doctor asked the girl to give a thumbs up if she could hear him, and she gave two thumbs up, he added.

Abigail was then rushed into surgery to treat her very serious wounds.

I was not there, so I cannot say exactly what Lt. Hinz said to reporters, or how accurately they conveyed his words. However subsequently some readers wrote NRLC to say that this was inaccurate–that Abigail had not been declared brain dead.

We went to the gift of hope Michigan site. There was a statement from Vicki and Gene Kopf, Abigail’s parents, thanking the community for their support and mourning the loss of life.

The post (dated Tuesday) said

We have been by Abigail’s bedside since this happened. She remains in critical condition fighting for her life, but as we mentioned, she is strong-willed and she is fighting.

The parents did not address the brain-dead issue, but on the site you will also find, “Bronson Methodist Hospital issues statement correcting details about 14-year-old Kalamazoo shooting victim.”

According to Dr. Aaron Lane-Davies, medical director, Bronson Children’s Hospital

Saturday night Abigail was critically injured.

Her heart stopped during the on-going attempts to sustain her life.

Following restoration of her heart beat, our team shared with her parents the grave nature of her life- threatening injuries.

Due to both the nature of her injuries and efforts required to sustain her life, our team discussed the possibility that she could become brain dead.  (Underlining added.)

At the request and with permission of Abigail’s parents our team contacted Gift of Life.

The act of organ donation, after a tragedy like this one, can only occur after a person has died. Determining brain death requires a series of physical exams, sometimes in conjunction with other testing over the course of multiple hours. This series of exams was not begun due to Abigail’s clinical condition.

Abigail was not declared medically brain dead.

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