Expert rejects evidence of life in brain-dead girl

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Expert rejects evidence of life in brain-dead girl
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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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- A court-appointed expert has told a California judge he sees no evidence that a 13-year-old girl is alive 10 months after a coroner signed her death certificate.

The opinion was provided Monday in the case of Jahi McMath by Stanford University pediatric neurologist Paul Fisher.

Jahi was declared brain dead on Dec. 12 after she went into cardiac arrest following surgery to treat sleep apnea.

Her family wants Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo to issue what would be an unprecedented order declaring her to be alive after being declared brain dead.

A hearing had been scheduled for Thursday, but it has been postponed as the attorney representing McMath's mother seeks time to respond to Fisher's finding.

"There wasn't time to react to this letter," attorney Chris Dolan said Wednesday night. "Given the fact that we were up against the time crunch ... I thought that we were going to be in essence sandbagged."

Dolan objected to Fisher's appointment as an independent expert, arguing that the doctor has a conflict of interest because he was one of the physicians who agreed with the brain-death diagnosis in December.

Thursday's hearing wasn't immediately rescheduled, and Dolan has asked for a four-week delay so his experts and Fisher can discuss the results and come up with a plan for more tests that would satisfy them all.

"I just wanted to give these doctors a chance to talk," Dolan said.

Five other medical professionals who performed new tests on the teenager in New Jersey last month said the girl showed signs of brain function.

In his letter to the judge, Fisher replied that the tests either were irrelevant to determining brain death in a child or not carried out in accordance with accepted medical standards.

"None of the declarations provide evidence that Jahi McMath is not brain dead," he wrote.

Jahi has been kept on a ventilator and feeding tubes since she suffered severe complications from the surgery. Fisher examined her then at the request of the judge while her family fought a hospital's decision to remove the equipment.

Fisher was one of three doctors who declared her brain-dead after finding no neurological activity.

Dolan has given the judge the results of a Sept. 1 electroencephalogram that a researcher at a medical school in Cuba said showed electrical activity in Jahi's brain.

Fisher, in his letter to the judge, said the new test was performed in an apartment, not a health care setting, and the recorded activity could have come from elsewhere in the girl's body or even the environment. Regardless, he said, a flat reading on the exam is not a prerequisite for brain death.

Fisher similarly took issue with the brain scan that allegedly showed blood flowing to Jahi's brain. He said the test doctors and researchers from the nonprofit International Brain Research Foundation used was incorrect and would not have demonstrated such blood flow.

Fisher also did not attach much significance to videos showing the girl moving her hands and feet in apparent response to her mother's commands.

Jahi's mother, Latasha Winkfield, has worked to keep her daughter's organs functioning on life support, first at Children's Hospital in Oakland and later at an undisclosed medical facility, and now a house in New Jersey.

Unlike California, New Jersey law allows families to reject a declaration of brain death on religious grounds and allows brain-dead patients to remain connected to ventilators.

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