Family Wins Extension for Brain-Dead Jahi McMath, Says Facility Will Take Her
Update: 5:15 p.m.
Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ordered Children’s Hospital Oakland to maintain 13-year-old Jahi McMath on a ventilator past the 5 p.m. Monday time that was set in a previous temporary restraining order. The new deadline is 5 p.m. on Jan. 7.
Jahi’s uncle, Omari Sealey, stated earlier this afternoon that a facility in New York has agreed to take her, and that the family has contracted with an air ambulance company to transport her door to door.
Sealey also said the family has video of Jahi moving when her mother speaks.
Jahi’s family was jubilant after Grillo’s extension. According to the Associated Press:
Nailah Winkfield, the girl’s mother, said she wept when she heard about the ruling and hugged relatives outside the hospital.
She said the delay was an answer to her prayers and a sign that she was right to keep fighting.
“Who wants to know the date and the time their child would die?” she said. “I don’t care what anyone has to say about what I’m doing… I have to do what is right for me and for Jahi.”
She said she does not believe her daughter is dead because her heart is still beating.
Sam Singer, a hospital spokesman, said it would comply with the judge’s new order.
The family’s attorney, Christopher Dolan, said he was pleased about getting the extension from Judge Grillo.
“He’s giving us a meaningful opportunity to seek relief and what I consider a stay of execution,” Dolan said. “I feel like I’m a death row lawyer and it does not feel good.”
Dolan said he called Jahi’s mother at the hospital about Grillo granting the extension and she said the hospital staff had cleared the family out of the waiting room in preparation for removal of the ventilator.
“She said it was a horrible feeling ,and when I got to tell her that her daughter would not be unplugged, she broke down in tears,” he said.
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.
The latest ruling on Monday came after the family said they would sue to keep Jahi on life support.
Family spokesman Omari Sealey, the uncle of Jahi, disclosed the plan to seek a restraining order against the hospital.
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.
The family said on its fundraising website that it had raised more than $25,000 for a possible transfer.
Earlier Monday, Singer reiterated the position of the doctors.
“This is one of the most tragic situations imaginable,” Singer said. “A family has lost their young daughter. But unfortunately, Jahi is deceased. No amount of hope, prayer or medical procedures will bring her back.”
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.
Here is Judge Grillo’s extension of the temporary restraining order:
Update: 4:18 p.m. ABC7News Bay Area is reporting that the judge has extended the temporary restraining order until 5 p.m. on Jan. 7.
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsBayArea) December 31, 2013
Update: 3:50 p.m. Jahi McMath’s uncle, Omari Sealey, made a brief statement this afternoon. He said a facility in New York has agreed to take Jahi and that the family has contracted with an air ambulance company to transport her door to door. However, he said that the hospital is not cooperating and that the family was asking Judge Evelio Grillo to extend a restraining order against the hospital, so that it will not disconnect the ventilator allowing her to breathe past a 5 p.m. deadline. Sealey also said a motion in federal court has been filed.
McMath, 13, has been declared irreparably brain dead by doctors.
Sealey said the family has video of Jahi moving when her mother speaks.
Update 3:45 p.m.: Tweet from ABC7 News:
#Jahi family attorney tells ABC7 News they have presented Children’s with video showing girl responding to Mom, filed several court actions
— Laura Anthony (@LauraAnthony7) December 30, 2013
Children’s Hospital Oakland said Sunday that without an emergency court order, it will unhook 13-year-old Jahi McMath at 5 p.m. today from the ventilator enabling her to breath. That’s when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo’s current injunction against that action expires.
Jahi was declared brain dead by hospital doctors after heavy bleeding related to a tonsillectomy and other procedures intended to treat a sleep apnea on Dec 9. A court-ordered assessment by an independent pediatric neurologist from Stanford University also concluded that her brain showed no activity.
The girl’s family, however, says they believe she is still alive and are against disconnecting her from the ventilator. The family was pinning its hopes on a New York facility that would take Jahi after two California facilities withdrew offers.
Chris Dolan, the family’s attorney, said he was waiting to hear from the New York hospital after its facility director and medical director speak. He said the facility is run by an “organization that believes in life.” KTVU reported earlier today that the New York facility had rescinded its offer.
On Sunday, Dolan said, “The family is together, and today everybody is praying and being together.” ABC7News is reporting that Dolan intended to return to court today to prevent the hospital from disconnecting Jahi.
This afternoon, Sandra Chapman, Jahi’s grandmother, said the family is still seeking another hospital or care facility for her granddaughter.
“We’re working on it. There are people that are helping us. I know one’s going to come through.I know it. I feel it. I’m not concerned. I’m really not. Jahi’s moving. And if she’s moving, the doctors should pay attention to that because maybe we don’t need this at all.”
On Sunday, the hospital released a letter it sent to Dolan, stating it would be “pleased to communicate directly with a physician at any facility that is considering accepting Jahi’s body to make sure Children’s understands the requirements set by that facility for accepting the body, and to ensure that the facility understands the current condition of the dead body and what is being done to maintain it under Judge Grillo’s temporary restraining order. Of course, the family’s representatives can observe that communication.”
- Forum: Defining Brain Death
- Redacted notes on lack of neurological activity by Stanford doctor (NBC Bay Area)
The hospital also said any transportation of Jahi would have to be “lawful” and that it would need written permission from a coroner if the new facility was out of state.
Dolan said previously that the family views the New York site as it’s “last, last hope.” He has also has said it was possible the family could file a federal appeal.
Sam Singer, spokesperson for Children’s Hospital Oakland, said yesterday that “there’s unfortunately, no amount of hope, no amount of prayer that can bring [Jahi] back.”
Dolan and Singer also got into a finger-pointing match in front of the hospital. You can see parts of that at around 1:00 in this video.
When asked on CNN yesterday what it would take to be convinced that her daughter was dead, Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, said, “I would probably need for my child’s heart to stop, to show me she was dead. Her heart is still beating, so there’s still life there.”
Omari Sealey, Jahi’s uncle, said he saw signs of life in that the girl was moving different parts of her body.
Arthur Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, told CNN last week that this particular case is “giving the impression that dead people can come back to life.”
Notes from Paul Graham Fisher, the Stanford doctor who assessed Jahi’s neurological activity, state there is a “complete absence of cerebral function and complete absence of brainstem function. Child meets all criteria for brain death, by professional societies and state of California.” The notes were obtained by NBC Bay Area.
Yesterday, Singer said the surgery undergone by Jahi was “complex.”
“This was not a simple procedure,” he said.
An attorney for the hospital told NBC Bay Area yesterday that the only way to determine what went wrong in the surgery is from an autopsy.
Update: From NBC Bay Area:
“Jahi’s attorney, Chris Dolan, had said he may consider filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of the girl’s family. But on Monday morning, no such suit had been filed.”
And regarding the surgeries that Jahi underwent:
The surgeries included: An adenotonsillectomy; a uvulopalatopharyngloplasty, or UPPP, which is tissue removal in the throat; and submucous resection of bilateral inferior turbinates, which is nasal obstruction.
KQED Public Radio’s Forum today discussed the meaning of brain death.Related