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Life support extended for girl declared brain dead

Judge Stops Hospital From Taking Jahi McMath Off Ventilator


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- A California judge has ordered a 13-year-old girl declared brain dead to be kept on life support until Jan. 7.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo on Monday ordered Children's Hospital Oakland to maintain Jahi McMath on a ventilator past a 5 p.m. time set in a previous ruling.

The family wants to continue life support, saying there is hope for recovery.

Doctors at Children's Hospital and an independent pediatric neurologist from Stanford University have concluded the girl is brain dead.

Jahi underwent a tonsillectomy at the hospital on Dec. 9 to treat sleep apnea and other issues. After she awoke from the operation, her family said, she started bleeding heavily and went into cardiac arrest.

She was declared brain dead three days later.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The family of a 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain dead after a tonsillectomy said Monday they will sue to keep her on life support.

Family spokesman Omari Sealey, the uncle of Jahi McMath, disclosed the plan to seek a restraining order against the hospital where the girl is on a breathing machine.

Under an order issued on Dec. 24 by a state judge, Jahi could be removed from a ventilator at Children's Hospital of Oakland at 5 p.m. PST.

The family wants to stop the hospital, saying there is hope for recovery.

Sealey said the family took video of Jahi responding when her mother touched and talked to her. He also said a pediatrician examined her and said she was not dead.

A facility in New York state is willing to take Jahi, and arrangements have been made for medical transport with a doctor by her side, the uncle said.

"We are hopeful one of these (court) actions will forestall the hospital's effort to extinguish Jahi's life," Sealey said.

The teen suffered cardiac arrest after bleeding profusely following her operation earlier this month.

The hospital has declined to comment on its possible actions.

Jahi underwent a tonsillectomy at the hospital on Dec. 9 to treat sleep apnea and other issues. After she awoke from the operation, her family said, she started bleeding heavily and went into cardiac arrest. She was declared brain dead three days later.

The family said on its fundraising website that it had raised more than $25,000 for a possible transfer.

Doctors at Children's Hospital and an independent pediatric neurologist from Stanford University have concluded the girl is brain dead.

On Monday, Sam Singer, a hospital spokesman, reiterated the position of the doctors.

"This is one of the most tragic situations imaginable," Singer said. "A family has long their young daughter. But unfortunately, Jahi is deceased. No amount of hope, prayer or medical procedures will bring her back."

Singer said patient privacy laws require that any updates about the girl's status must come from the family.

"It is in their hands now," Singer said.

Cynthia Chiarappa, a hospital spokeswoman, has said officials would have to understand the capabilities of the New York facility before allowing a possible transfer.

The hospital also said it would need to confirm there is lawful transportation included in any transfer plan and there is written permission from the coroner.

Doctors at Children's Hospital have refused to perform a tracheotomy for breathing and to insert a feeding tube - procedures that would be necessary to transfer Jahi. The hospital has said it's unethical to perform surgery on a person legally declared dead.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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Vickie Bromley January 02 2014 at 9:55 AM

I'm praying Children's Hospital will give Jahi what she needs and let her parents make the decisions for her, as it should be.

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Ms. GG December 31 2013 at 8:00 PM

We need an intact upper brain to be aware of ourselves and our surrounding environment. Awareness is a higher-level function that requires areas of the cerebrum to process the information we see and hear. A patient may have their eyes open and look like they're awake, but if the brain is severely damaged they may have no awareness of their surroundings. We call this a vegetative state.

On the other hand, people who are in a coma are not awake and have no awareness of themselves or their environment. You can talk to them, pinch them, show them pictures of their family -- they will not respond. However, these patients are not brain dead. This is the source of the confusion that leads to the sensational headlines and stories.

In 1976, Karen Ann Quinlan was in a vegetative state, but lived for nine more years after her ventilator was discontinued. Theresa Schiavo had been in a vegetative state for 15 years. After a protracted legal battle her husband was granted permission to withdraw her nutritional support and she died. Both young women, like the people in the headlines, were not brain dead. People in a vegetative state usually have extensive brain damage, but may blink their eyes and look around, breathe on their own, yawn, chew, and even withdraw their arms or legs to painful stimulation" Richard Senelick" They are not brain dead, and no one is going to take their organs.The question is..how many had the plug pulled and were not brain dead? Also what is a reasonable needed time to verify if a human is in a vegetative state and not brain dead?

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calinative55 December 31 2013 at 5:28 PM

I also pray commentors such as eiywaa are never placed in any position of responsibility over others judging by their irresponsible, uncaring commentary.

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1 reply to calinative55's comment
eiwyaa December 31 2013 at 5:51 PM

I have always been in that position as a leader and you know what they always ask me to lead them even when I don't want to because they value my knowledge and that's in the real world not the pray world.

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calinative55 December 31 2013 at 5:25 PM

The greatest act of final love the parents could show their daughter is to let her go with dignity instead of the physically wasting decrepitude that awaits full life support with no hope of recovery. Tragedy permeates this situation, not the least of which is the modern tragedy of something so devastatingly personal turning into a media tabloid, which will be publicly forgotten so soon, delaying the parental healing process. Medicine has taken on a new immorality of false hope with the advent of soulless ventilatory life support. I pray the parents receive the proper counsel they sorely need now. Full ventilatory support without hope of recovery is a mockery of life itself.

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eiwyaa December 31 2013 at 5:54 PM

No the greatest act a parent can give their children is a chance.

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eiwyaa December 31 2013 at 2:36 PM

This Hospital wants her dead and gone so they could come out of the limelights in order to not hurt their business that of taking lives and keeping it quiet , it's just a business.

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eiwyaa December 31 2013 at 2:24 PM

This Hospital doesn't know their ankle from their elbow, they could not perform a successful operation would you believe them if they say she is dead. She didn't go to the Hospital in critical condition but came out supposedly dead, it should be the hospital responsibility to care for her until the family accept her as dead. A lot or people are ignorant to this fact that many people have been declared brain dead and re covered to live a normal life.

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nsumlar December 31 2013 at 1:53 PM

As a Christian physician, it always tears me apart to see this science vs faith debate. This poor child is dead and the family is having a hard time processing this. It may take talking to the right person--one who understands the science and who is willing to share their faith...or simply time. They need to know that choosing to have their child have the operation was the right choice, so they feel it is not their fault. It was a higher risk of operation given her obesity, yet she needed it for obstructive sleep apnea. They need to be reassured that her lack of recovery has nothing to due with lack of faith and not praying hard enough. I hope that they come around.

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eiwyaa December 31 2013 at 2:45 PM

You maybe a Doctor but not a good one I would not come to you not even for an advice,its all about money for most of you. They made the wrong choice the right choice would be to put her on a diet.

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Sarah Jane December 31 2013 at 1:17 PM

The fighting here isn't going to help. This is a terrible tragedy for this family.

She is gone. Hope or not.

BobRN brought forward another elephant in the room but it could use another forum.

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2 replies to Sarah Jane's comment
delfino.adams December 31 2013 at 1:31 PM

BobRN isn't a real RN. He's claimed to be a master plumber in another forum. He just likes to start stuff.

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2 replies to delfino.adams's comment
Sarah Jane December 31 2013 at 1:39 PM

Even so, obesity belongs in another place and not here. I don't know that anyone in here us who they say they are but the name is an easy identifier. Thanks for the heads up tho. :)

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Doyle Christine January 01 2014 at 10:56 AM

Thanks for telling us Delfino. I was suspicious of BobRn a.k.a Oboblunar because of how he changes his stance once he gauges how other commentators regard his responses. He was making snide comments about God as non-existent and when he met with negative feedback he changed that to he prays all the time. Much of what he wrote does not make sense.

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oboblunar December 31 2013 at 1:48 PM

Sarah et al. I am a registered nurse at the University of Florida in Gainesville. I have never posted on a blog like this an certainly have never claimed to be a plumber. I am sincere in my opinions and will now cease posting anymore comments as too many of you are upset. Just wanted to raise an issue and the frustration I deal with nightly. If anyone wants my nursing license -- please contact me at oboblunar@aol.com. Kind Regards, Bob, RN

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3 replies to oboblunar's comment
beverlymedic December 31 2013 at 1:12 PM

Obviously the hospital spokeman do not know my God! The God that I serve is still the same prayer answering, miracle working, bringing back from the dead God of the Bible! He is wiling and able! Lord Jesus do it....bring this little girl, your precious child back to life in Jesus name I decree, and declare it! Make the hospital shut their mouths! All for your Glory Lord Jesus! show them who you are!

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1 reply to beverlymedic's comment
qzeemerel2 January 01 2014 at 3:03 AM

There is one sure way to put your suggestion to the test. Remove her from the ventilator. If she continues to breathe on her own, THEN they can decide to put in a feeding tube.

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pudoink December 31 2013 at 12:49 PM

This is an extraordinary piece of hell for the parent's of this precious child. No loving parent wants to lose their baby (no matter their age, they are always your "baby"). I think the problem lies with the law. You're given a very short time to make the decision to suspend life support. During that short time you're given, you're trying to catch your breathe, running through a gauntlet of every horrible emotion. Anguish, denial, hope, terror. By the time you finally come to terms with the reality that the only thing left is her earthly vehicle, the law won't allow the cessation of medical intervention. The law needs to be changed in cases of brain death. No one can be expected to make the most difficult decision of their life while they're completely shell shocked and doing everything in their power just to not curl up in a corner and sob.

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Cornelia Codpiece December 31 2013 at 12:56 PM

very well said...especially the last line!

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