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Facility found for Jahi McMath, Calif. teen declared brain dead

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - An attorney says a nursing home has agreed to provide long-term care for a 13-year-old girl, who has been declared brain dead but whose family maintains is still alive.

A southern California facility agreed after another nursing home backed out, the family's lawyer, Christopher Dolan, said Friday.

He wouldn't provide its name, saying "we're afraid they'll be inundated with press" and decide to back out as well.

Time is short for the family, as Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo on Tuesday ruled that the Children's Hospital Oakland may remove Jahi McMath from life support at 5 p.m. Monday unless an appeal is filed.

Jahi underwent tonsil surgery at Children's Hospital on Dec. 9 to treat sleep apnea. After she awoke from the operation, her family said, she started bleeding heavily from her mouth and went into cardiac arrest. Doctors at Children's Hospital concluded the girl was brain dead on Dec. 12 and wanted to remove her from life support. The family said they believe she is still alive.

Before Jahi can be transferred, she must undergo two more medical procedures - the insertion of a breathing tube and a feeding tube, both of which would be necessary for her long-term care but which the nursing home is not equipped to perform.

The hospital has refused to perform the procedures.

"Children's Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice," David Durand, its chief of pediatrics, said in a statement Thursday.

Douglas Straus, a lawyer for the hospital, said in a letter made public Friday that before the hospital would comply with the family's request to move Jahi, it would need to speak directly with officials at any nursing home to make sure they understand her condition, "including the fact that Jahi is brain dead" - and to discuss needed preparations, including transportation.

"Children's Hospital will of course continue to do everything legally and ethically permissible to support the family of Jahi McMath. In that regard, Children's will allow a lawful transfer of Jahi's body in its current state to another location if the family can arrange such a transfer and Children's can legally do so," Straus wrote in the letter.

He also said the Alameda County coroner needed to sign off on the move "since we are dealing with the body of a person who has been declared legally dead."

The letter was sent to Dolan after Dolan said he was preparing a federal civil rights lawsuit to force the hospital to outfit Jahi with breathing and feeding tubes. He said the hospital's refusal to cooperate violated her family's religious, due process rights and privacy rights.

In fulfillment of the hospital's request, Dolan said he had held a three-way conference call Friday with Straus and the director of the nursing home.

Dolan also told the Associated Press on Friday that he had already obtained signed consent from the coroner for Jahi's transfer.

The Alameda County Coroner's Bureau said it had no comment.

Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, said earlier on Friday the family was in talks with three nursing homes - two in Los Angeles and one in New York - that might be willing to take her.

The girl's relatives had announced on Thursday that they had found a nursing home in the San Francisco Bay Area that was willing to care for the girl if she had the tubes. Within hours, the hospital's chief of pediatrics issued a statement saying Children's would not cooperate because it "does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice."

Upon learning of the hospital's position, that facility backed out.

Dolan said he is hoping the hospital officials will change their mind about the surgery after speaking with the nursing home officials.

If they don't, he said, the family's options are slim, but he is hoping the Alameda County judge will give them some more time Monday to find a doctor willing to perform the surgeries.

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arcsol December 28 2013 at 12:25 PM

I am sure it must be so incredibly painful for her family to lose her, that they will hold on to any slim hope that they can get her back. They have my fullest sympathy. Maybe with time they will be able to let go, but I have a 14 year old daughter, and I don't blame them for having this position.

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loralcag December 28 2013 at 1:08 PM

Nearly 10 years ago, my son was declared brain dead after sustaining multiple blunt force trauma to his head, the result of a DUI driver hitting the car he was riding in while on a vacation far from home. He was 12. The ER staff at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital could not stop the bleeding and swelling in his brain which ultimately cost him his life. They told me they would attempt to keep him alive until I got there. When I arrived at the hospital, he was on a ventilator and medications to keep his heart rate stable and liquids for dehydration. He was warm to the touch and moved his leg when I touched it. His heart still beat. His head and neck were very swollen and the skin around his eyes was black. He had a bruise on his chest where his seatbelt had been. His leg was broken too. Still his lungs filled with air, expelled air and his heart was beating. He expelled urine via catheter, and lots of it. I could hold his hand and caress his arm and rub his legs and tell him how much I loved him. It was impossible comprehend the fact that he was 'dead'.The organ donation people met me saying that he could donate his organs, to children. The doctors did tests to see which organs weren't damaged. The doctor told me my son could donate his liver and his kidneys. His other organs were too damaged. They had to move fast though, because the organs had to be harvested while his heart beat and they didn't know how long that would continue. It was a nightmare for me as his mother to make this decision for him. I was told he would have to have an autopsy anyway to determine his death so that a vehicular homicide DUI charge would be made, so at least something good could come of him being opened up. The woman who killed him served 6 months in county jail. I will always feel he was violated: The way they took his organs, the way the machines were turned off, the autopsy,the way he was cremated-alone. I wish to this day I had demanded the machines be kept going until his heart stopped. That I had refused an autopsy. That I had stayed to see him cremated and take the little box home with me. To this day I cannot say when he died. The day of the crash? a day later when he was declared legally dead? or the following day when they took his organs and turned off the machines? His autopsy took place the following day and he was cremated and flown home the day after that. This brain death experience and aftermath will forever haunt me. I feel I was pushed into a decision that helped others and not my son. He should have died with dignity. I brought him in to this world and I should have held fast so that he left this world on his own terms, not others. I support Jahi's family for wanting the same thing. A child's life has been taken and we should all help this child to die with dignity and surrounded by their loving family. They are her voice now and should be heard and respected.

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3 replies
mom's daycare December 28 2013 at 1:11 PM

I'm so sorry for the pain these parents are going through. But angered by the ethics and responsibilities also of this hospital. I don't know all the story of this case and I'm not in the medical field. Why didn't they pay more attention to the bleeding or follow up after surgery? Why cardiac arrest? Unfortunately we as patients are in the hands of Dr as we sign those papers when we are admitted in ER or Hospitals. It is the DR's decisions that our lives are intrusted,it is their call on the diagnoses they give. How ever God is the one who REALLY makes the call and WE must have faith in him. I feel in this case perhaps because of a misjudgement or a DR. mistake this little girl was taken home to her eternal rest. Instead of living a life in a comatose state or on a breathing machine. That's why Brain dead. Denial is the hardest step to past when grieving with the lost of a loved one especially a child. We must pray for these parents to get the strength to let her go, to remember her as she once was, and that now she is in a better place anyway, prolonging life on support systems only has the body still here. If there is no hope let her go. If she is to live again on earth God will make that choice, not us humans to decide.

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1 reply
jsmith120313 mom's daycare December 28 2013 at 1:29 PM

You can be sure the family will SUE and make millions off of this. Maybe they are prolonging her death in order to increase the amount of the legal award. This has most likely already cost taxpayers $100,000s of dollars if not more.
Time to say goodbye and let her go to heaven or wherever her family believes in.

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kcanpa2_kenneth December 28 2013 at 1:12 PM

And once again money, greed, selfishness, law and news media attention are more important than a human. Perhaps this can be turned into a racist thing. Perhaps, after January 1, 2014 the ACA under the executive order of President Obama can allow the body eternal life on earth.

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1 reply
jsmith120313 kcanpa2_kenneth December 28 2013 at 1:28 PM

This will soon turn into a racial issue ---- counting down. The democrats need more time to figure out how to use this for their race driven agenda.

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nerak2822 December 28 2013 at 1:13 PM

what part of brain dead causes the parents to do this to a daughter?

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1 reply
lucadoo nerak2822 December 28 2013 at 1:32 PM


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Bill December 28 2013 at 1:13 PM

No parent should bear this pain. With that said I don't see a father in the picture so there is the likelyhood the taxpayers will be footing the bill for this.

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5 replies
thinkfirst December 28 2013 at 1:21 PM

Keeping this poor girl's body alive with machines is a display of human selfishness and arrogance at best. Comments that imply that she should be left on the machines until God is ready to take her are simply stupid. God has already taken her. It is human selfishness that wont let her body go - her spirit is already gone. I feel sorry for the parents and their loss. It is in times like this that grieving people are vulnerable to bad advice and bad decisions. I sincerely hope that greed is not a motivating factor in the decisions being made - whether on the part of the family's lawyers, the hospital the nursing homes or the family itself. It would be best to let this child go and stop trying to prolong the life of an empty shell - instead, do something positive in her name that will help others who are still alive and suffering.

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2 replies
daverr16 thinkfirst December 28 2013 at 1:36 PM

Ignorance is not bliss...it's ignorance.
These people have no clue.

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lucadoo thinkfirst December 28 2013 at 1:48 PM

Again I post this to another person whose use of words like selfishness and arrogance - Do you have children? I sincerely believe in my heart that this child should be off life support and pass in her own time, but as a mother, I can only imagine what agony they are in. Acceptance and moviing on is done in time. When you feel that first flutter in your belly as life is forming, there is a bond so strong and you become this mama bear very protectiive and nurturing. Cruel is pretty harsh in making an opinion, and trying to make a decision for whats in the childs best interest is at hand. It has to be in their time not ours.

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gewatt1 December 28 2013 at 4:01 PM

I understand the parents not wanting to lose their child, but are they doing it for her or for themselves, I know its hard to lose children, I have lost two, but decide who your doing it for then make the right decision!

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1 reply
babegirlaci gewatt1 December 28 2013 at 4:12 PM

Well said. My heart goes out to you for your loss.

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holidaycompanion December 28 2013 at 1:21 PM

This is cruel to have her kept alive like this. She is dead the family needs to accept this and move on.


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1 reply
lucadoo holidaycompanion December 28 2013 at 1:45 PM

Do you have children? I sincerely believe in my heart that this child should be off life support and pass in her own time, but as a mother, I can only imagine what agony they are in. Acceptance and moviing on is done in time. When you feel that first flutter in your belly as life is forming, there is a bond so strong and you become this mama bear very protectiive and nurturing. Cruel is pretty harsh in making an opinion, and trying to make a decision for whats in the childs best interest is at hand. It has to be in their time not ours.

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Sonja December 28 2013 at 4:00 PM

this is tough, but I understand the mother who cannot decided to pull the plug.
my sister inlaw in her late sixty had an operation , also went into a cardiac arrest,dr mention to her children she is brain dead.
of course the oldest daughter ask the dr for a little while to see if she comes out of her coma/
even do her eyes open ?
but nothing changes.
so, one day the sat down and let their rest in peace.
ps. poor mother was also Overweight , half of her life + her heart couldn;t take all stress with high blood-pressure.
ps. the dr didt the best the could.
RIP. sincerly sonja wolff dendy.

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