California girl's brain-death ruling back in court

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California girl's brain-death ruling back in court
Nailah Winkfield, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, cries before a courtroom hearing regarding McMath, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. McMath remains on life support at Children's Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead, following a supposedly routine tonsillectomy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Nailah Winkfield, center, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, places her hands to her face before a courtroom hearing regarding McMath, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. McMath remains on life support at Children's Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead, following a supposedly routine tonsillectomy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Nailah Winkfield, mother of Jahi McMath, cries before a courtroom hearing regarding McMath, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. McMath remains on life support at Children's Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead, following a supposedly routine tonsillectomy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Nailah Winkfield, left, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, enters a courtroom hearing Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. McMath remains on life support at Children's Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead, following a supposedly routine tonsillectomy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Attorney Christopher Dolan, left, representing the family of Jahi McMath, gestures beside Omari Sealey, Jahi's uncle, during a media conference Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in San Francisco. Dolan said Monday that a critical care team has delivered Jahi McMath to a new facility, but wouldn't say where it was located. McMath, who had surgery for sleep apnea at Children's Hospital Oakland and then had complications, was declared brain dead on Dec. 12, 2013. McMath left the hospital in a private ambulance shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday. She was moved by a critical care team while attached to a ventilator but without a feeding tube. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Martin Winkfield places his arm around his wife Nailah Winkfield, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, as they wait outside a courtroom Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. A federal magistrate was expected to meet Friday with lawyers to try to resolve a dispute over the care ofJahi McMath, who was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Nailah Winkfield, right, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, touches her husband Martin Winkfield as they wait outside a courtroom Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. A federal magistrate was expected to meet Friday with lawyers to try to resolve a dispute over the care ofJahi McMath, who was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
The entrance to the Children's Hospital of Oakland is barricaded on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, in Oakland , Calif. Without another court action, a California hospital on Monday could unhook a 13-year-old girl from a breathing machine after she was declared brain dead. Jahi McMath could be removed from life support at Children's Hospital of Oakland at 5 p.m. PST under a Dec. 24 ruling by an Alameda County Superior Court Judge. The family is awaiting word on whether a facility in New York would accept the girl as a transfer patient. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Omari Sealey, at right, shakes hands with well-wishers Frank Somerville, at left, and his daughter Callie, 9, after Sealy made a statement for the media on the condition of his niece Jahi McMath on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. Without another court action, a California hospital on Monday could unhook a 13-year-old girl from a breathing machine after she was declared brain dead. Jahi McMath could be removed from life support at Children's Hospital of Oakland at 5 p.m. PST under a Dec. 24 ruling by an Alameda County Superior Court Judge. The family is awaiting word on whether a facility in New York would accept the girl as a transfer patient. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Omari Sealey makes a statement for the media on the condition of his niece Jahi McMath on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. Without another court action, a California hospital on Monday could unhook a 13-year-old girl from a breathing machine after she was declared brain dead. Jahi McMath could be removed from life support at Children's Hospital of Oakland at 5 p.m. PST under a Dec. 24 ruling by an Alameda County Superior Court Judge. The family is awaiting word on whether a facility in New York would accept the girl as a transfer patient. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Children's Hospital of Oakland spokesman Sam Singer gives an update on the condition of Jahi McMath on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, in Oakland , Calif. Without another court action, a California hospital on Monday could unhook a 13-year-old girl from a breathing machine after she was declared brain dead. Jahi McMath could be removed from life support at Children's Hospital of Oakland at 5 p.m. PST under a Dec. 24 ruling by an Alameda County Superior Court Judge. The family is awaiting word on whether a facility in New York would accept the girl as a transfer patient. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Nailah Winkfield, left, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, enters a courtroom hearing Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. McMath remains on life support at Children's Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead, following a supposedly routine tonsillectomy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Attorney Christopher Dolan, left, leads Omari Sealey, second from left, who is the uncle of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, and other family members prior to a courtroom hearing regarding McMath, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. McMath remains on life support at Children's Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead, following a supposedly routine tonsillectomy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Omari Sealey, left, uncle of Jahi McMath, speaks with attorney Christopher Dolan prior to a media conference Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, in front of Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif. Jahi McMath remains on life support at Children's Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead, she had tonsil surgery on Dec. 9 to help her with sleep apnea but began bleeding and experienced cardiac arrest later that night. Doctors declared her brain dead on Dec. 12.(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Oakland, Calif, USA. 23rd Dec, 2013. Nailah Winkfield, center, mother of Jahi McMath, receives hugs and support from family and friends in front of Children's Hospital Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. © Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group/MCT/Alamy Live News
Oakland, CA, USA . 05th Jan, 2014. The exterior of Children's Hospital Oakland on January 5, 2014 in Oakland, California. The hospital is currently involved in a legal battle over Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl who became brain dead after complications from surgery to remove her tonsils. The hospital has declared McMath dead and want to remove her from the ventilator keeping her alive and her family has sued to prevent the move. © Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy Live News
Oakland, CA, USA . 05th Jan, 2014. The exterior of Children's Hospital Oakland on January 5, 2014 in Oakland, California. The hospital is currently involved in a legal battle over Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl who became brain dead after complications from surgery to remove her tonsils. The hospital has declared McMath dead and want to remove her from the ventilator keeping her alive and her family has sued to prevent the move. © Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy Live News
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- An attorney for the family of a California teenager who was declared brain-dead says doctors have found signs of brain functions and is seeking an unprecedented court order declaring her alive.

Attorney Chris Dolan said Thursday that doctors at the nonprofit International Brain Research Foundation made the findings after running a series of tests on the 13-year-old Jahi McMath at Rutgers University last week.

The discovery came months after three doctors, including one appointed by a judge, declared McMath brain-dead, and Alameda County issued a death certificate after her Dec. 9 sleep apnea surgery went awry.

Since then, Jahi's mother has pushed for keeping her daughter's organs functioning on life support, first at Children's Hospital in Oakland and later at an undisclosed medical facility in New Jersey.

Dolan said Jahi and her parents moved to a house in New Jersey about a month ago where the girl remains on life support.

On Thursday, Dolan showed video clips to a small group of reporters that he says proves Jahi is still alive. One clip shows her twitching her foot after her mother asks her to move it. Another shows hand movement in apparent response to her mother's commands.

Philip DeFina, chief executive and chief scientific officer of the International Brain Research Foundation, said Jahi has responded to commands many other times.

"There is a consistency to it," DeFina said.

DeFina also said brain scans showed electrical activity, and other tests showed blood flowing to the brain.

Arthur Caplan, head of medical ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Center, said he knows of no cases of a brain-death determination being reversed. He cautioned that the data collected on Jahi has to be examined by other researchers and experts in the field before any conclusions can be made.

"Were this to be true, it would be an earth-shattering development in understanding death," Caplan said. "They're playing a high-stakes game."

Lawyers for the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital said the evidence in Jahi's case still supports the determination that she is legally dead.

"This is a sad situation where the court made the correct determination that Jahi McMath was dead," hospital attorney Douglas Strauss stated in court papers. "There is no factual basis or legal justification for requiring those involved to endure re-litigation of that properly reached determination."

After the December surgery, Jahi began bleeding heavily and went into cardiac arrest. She was declared brain-dead Dec. 12.

Her mother and other family members refuse to believe the girl is dead as long as her heart is beating. They went to court last winter seeking an order to prevent the hospital from removing a respirator and feeding tube.

The two sides reached an agreement allowing Jahi to be transferred if her mother assumed responsibility for further complications. She was removed from Children's Hospital on Jan. 5, less than two days before an injunction that would have allowed the hospital to remove the equipment.

A court hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 9.

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