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Mom Petitions To End Florida 'Free Kill' Law After 25-Year-Old Daughter Dies In Hospital

Photo: Facebook
Taylor Jenkins is posing for a photo on an airplane.

A mom is desperately petitioning to end the "barbaric" 'Free Kill' law in Florida after her daughter's tragic death in one of the state's hospitals.

On March 18, 2023, 25-year-old flight attendant Taylor Jenkins was sitting at a red light in Orlando, Florida, when she was rear-ended. First responders got her to a hospital within just 30 minutes of the accident. But over the next few days, a series of alleged errors by medical staff appears to have led to her death. At 6 PM on March 18th, the attending trauma surgeon charted that Taylor no longer had signs of brain stem function coming out of the operating room to repair the torn pelvic artery.

Now, her mom, Cindy, is learning about the apparent medical malpractice that occurred in her daughter's last days for which she has "no recourse from a legal standpoint" due to a law that has been in place in Florida for over 30 years.

Cindy Jenkins is petitioning to end Florida’s ‘Free Kill’ law after her daughter’s tragic death.

Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, or ‘Free Kill’ law (Fla. Stat. 768.21), deligates two groups of individuals considered "Free Kill" for which families cannot "challenge what happens in Florida hospitals." The first is an adult 25 years or older with no spouse or children. The second is an adult who doesn’t have a spouse and has children 25 years or older.

Jenkins, who turned 25 just a few months before her death, falls under the first group. Her mother started a petition to change what she calls a “barbaric law.” 

Photo: Facebook

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When Jenkins arrived at the hospital after the accident, she was “diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and admitted to the ICU,” Cindy writes in her petition. In addition to that, she had a torn pelvic artery, though it wasn’t diagnosed until 12 hours later. She suffered major internal bleeding leading her to go into shock and part of her heart collapsing. Cindy notes that several medical orders were placed but not fulfilled, and many of those completed took place over seven hours after the fact.

One procedure that was never done could have identified the internal bleeding much earlier, potentially changing Jenkins’ outcome. When doctors finally made the observation, they began pumping blood back into her. “She received 11 units of blood over a matter of hours. To put this into perspective, the average adult female body contains a total of approximately 10 units of blood,” Cindy wrote.

However, medical professionals didn’t share with her family that the blood transfusion even took place. Nor did they share that she had no signs of brain stem function, meaning that she had no potential to regain consciousness. Instead, they told them that her “brain stem was herniating into her spinal column, thus cutting off oxygen to her brain.” Though, her medical record and CT scans eventually revealed that that was not the case. 

On the evening of the first day, Cindy requested her daughter’s medical records, hoping to get a second opinion and subsequently transfer Taylor to “the top trauma hospital in Central Florida.” The medical professionals denied her request, despite three Florida statutes declaring the right to obtain medical records, a second opinion and transfer a patient from one public hospital to another. 

Finally, following doctors repeatedly making it clear that under Florida law they did not need consent to proceed with brain death testing, they performed brain death testing and declared Taylor dead on March 22, 2023, at 5:35 PM.

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Cindy shared the importance of revoking the ‘Free Kill’ law.

Because of this law, Cindy is unable to hire legal counsel to adequately review her daughter's medical records. 

“If this law was revoked, ALL families would have the opportunity to have the skilled services of trained professionals who understand medical records. Their questions could be answered by these professionals and, where necessary, the judicial system could be utilized to challenge what happens in Florida hospitals. This would provide an added layer of accountability and, hopefully, increase the standard of care.” she wrote.

This law has been challenged before, with ABC News reporting in 2022 that Florida Senator Spencer Roach introduced a bill in 2021 designed to "delete this carve-out from medical malpractice wrongful death cases and would restore the value of human life." ABC News stated the law was originally put into place in 1990 after doctors and hospitals lobbied for it in order to reduce the cost of malpractice premiums. 

Sadly, WUFT News in Gainesville, Florida reported that "Florida’s Senate has effectively abandoned bipartisan efforts" to change this law.

Taylor Jenkins’ organs have saved multiple people’s lives.

Despite medical professionals’ potential failures, Jenkins has given the gift of life to five people. On Facebook, Cindy shared her daughter's final immense act of kindness.

Photo: Facebook

“Taylor’s organs are on the way to 5 recipients who she has never personally met but whose lives, and family’s lives, will forever be impacted by her love, generosity, and giving,” she wrote. 

Her loved ones have had the opportunity to see who has received her organs. One man sported an “I’m Living Proof” t-shirt to commemorate Taylor’s selfless act.

GoFundMe has been set up for the loved ones as they grapple with the tragedy.

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Ethan Cotler is a writer living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news and human interest stories.