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2 Year Old Girl on Life Support During Organ Donation Debate

Thaiya Spruill-Smith was declared brain-dead due on Friday, November 14th. The injuries that led to her death were said to have been sustained when she was violently shaken by her step-father. The girl’s biological father, Terrell Smith, had been fighting for her custody from a short time after her birth. This custody battle with Thaiya’s mother, Teoka Spruill, caused some debate about what should be done with their daughter’s remains. Teoka wanted to donate the organs, whereas Terrell wished his daughter to be buried with her organs.

Mr. Smith’s attorney, David J. Hernandez, expressed concern that if the daughter’s organs were donated, it could compromise a criminal investigation against David Adams, Thaiya’s 25 year old step-father. Mr. Adams admitted to shaking his step-daughter violently, and doctors agree that her injuries of excess fluid in the brain and bleeding were consistent with violent shaking. If the medical examiner rules the death as a homicide, the Brooklyn District Attorney is expected to upgrade the assault charges to murder.

The New York Times quoted Julia Rivera, director of communications for the New York Organ Donor Network saying that organ or tissue donations “can only occur when there is agreement among family members to proceed with donation.” She also said that because the patient was not enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry, and because of the family’s disagreement, donation was not possible.

After finding this new information, Mr. Smith realized custody was a moot point, and withdrew his petition. The court hearing lasted only a few minutes once it was determined that organ donation was not legally possible, and the decision was made to bury Thaiya Spruill-Smith intact.

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