California girl's brain-death ruling back in court

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California girl's brain-death ruling back in court
A photograph of 13-year-old Jahi McMath is seen on a necklace in Oakland, California December 24, 2013. A judge on Tuesday denied the McMath family's petition to keep their daughter on ventilator at the Children's Hospital Oakland past December 30 after doctors declared her brain dead following a routine REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH CRIME LAW)
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
(L-R) Jahi McMath's uncle Omari Sealy, grandmother Sandra Chatman and family attorney Chris Dolan react after speaking with the media outside Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, California, December 30, 2013. The family of 13-year-old Jahi, who was declared brain dead after complications from a tonsillectomy won an 11th-hour court order on Monday requiring doctors to keep her connected to a breathing machine for at least another week, relatives said. Jahi's mother Nailah Winkfield and uncle told reporters that a court has issued an injunction barring Children's Hospital in Oakland from removing the girl from a ventilator without her family's consent before January 7. REUTERS/Norbert von der Groeben (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)
Oakland Children's Hospital spokesperson Sam Singer speaks with the media at the U.S. District Courthouse for a settlement conference in Oakland, California, January 3, 2014. Relatives of a California girl declared brain dead after complications from a tonsillectomy want her moved to a long-term care facility, but face resistance from the hospital where she is due to be disconnected from a breathing machine on Monday. Under the latest court order in the case, doctors at Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland are barred from taking 13-year-old Jahi McMath off a ventilator without her family's consent before 5 p.m. local time on Jan. 7, relatives and hospital officials said. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH)
Nailah Winkfield, the mother of Jahi McMath, along with Jahi's uncle Omari Sealy (R), speak with the media outside Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, California, December 30, 2013. The family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead after complications from a tonsillectomy won an 11th-hour court order on Monday requiring doctors to keep her connected to a breathing machine for at least another week, relatives said. The mother and uncle of Jahi told reporters that a court has issued an injunction barring Children's Hospital in Oakland from removing the girl from a ventilator without her family's consent before January 7. REUTERS/Norbert von der Groeben (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)
(L-R) Sandra Chatman, grandmother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, attorney Christopher Dolan and Omari Sealey, uncle of McMath, embrace each other after a court hearing in Oakland, California December 24, 2013. A judge on Tuesday denied the McMath family's petition to keep her on ventilator at the Children's Hospital Oakland past December 30 after doctors declared her brain dead following a routine tonsillectomy procedure. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH CRIME LAW)
Christopher Dolan, attorney representing the family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, wipes his eyes as a judge announces his ruling on McMath in Oakland, California December 24, 2013. A judge on Tuesday denied the McMath family's petition to keep her on ventilator at the Children's Hospital Oakland past December 30 after doctors declared her brain dead following a routine tonsillectomy procedure. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH CRIME LAW)
Nailah Winkfield, mother of Jahi McMath, sits with her husband, Martin Winkfield, left, while attending a court hearing to discuss the treatment of 13-year-old daughter Jahi McMath in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. Jahi remains on a ventilator at Children's Hospital Oakland after suffering tragic complications during surgery. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group/MCT)
Dr. Paul Fisher, chief of pediatric neurology at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, testifies during a court hearing on 13-year-old Jahi McMath in Oakland, California December 24, 2013. A judge on Tuesday denied the McMath family's petition to keep their daughter on ventilator at the Children's Hospital Oakland past December 30 after doctors declared her brain dead following a routine tonsillectomy procedure. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH CRIME LAW)
Martin Winkfield (L), stepfather of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, and Sandra Chatman, grandmother of McMath, sit in the court room during a court hearing in Oakland, California December 24, 2013. A judge on Tuesday denied the McMath family's petition to keep their daughter on ventilator at the Children's Hospital Oakland past December 30 after doctors declared her brain dead following a routine tonsillectomy procedure. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH CRIME LAW)
(L-R) Family members Omari Sealey and Sandra Chatman, together with attorney Christopher Dolan, smile as they speak to members of the media after a court hearing on 13-year-old Jahi McMath in Oakland, California December 24, 2013. A judge on Tuesday denied the McMath family's petition to keep her on ventilator at the Children's Hospital Oakland past December 30 after doctors declared her brain dead following a routine tonsillectomy procedure. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH CRIME LAW)
Nailah Winkfield, mother of Jahi McMath, speaks to the media outside Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, California, December 30, 2013. The family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead after complications from a tonsillectomy won an 11th-hour court order on Monday requiring doctors to keep her connected to a breathing machine for at least another week, relatives said. Jahi's mother and uncle Omari Sealy told reporters that a court has issued an injunction barring Children's Hospital in Oakland from removing the girl from a ventilator without her family's consent before January 7. REUTERS/Norbert von der Groeben (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)
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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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