Jahi McMath Update: Hospital Fights Restraining Order; Terri Schiavo Connection
Update Wednesday: Fox News is reporting on another complication in the attempt of Jahi McMath’s family to move her to a new facility:
A California hospital is unwilling to allow an outside doctor to fit a 13-year-old declared brain dead after tonsil surgery with the breathing and feeding tubes that would allow her to be safely transferred to another facility, its lawyer said Tuesday.
Children’s Hospital Oakland will not permit the procedures to be performed on its premises because Jahi McMath is legally dead in the view of doctors who have examined her, lawyer Douglas Straus wrote in a letter to the girl’s family.
“Performing medical procedures on the body of a deceased human being is simply not something Children’s Hospital can do or ask its staff to assist in doing,” he said. Full story
On Monday, a judge ordered Children’s Hospital Oakland to keep the brain-dead, 13-year-old Oakland girl on a ventilator past the 5 p.m. deadline set in a previous order, prolonging it to Jan. 7. In a motion filed Tuesday with the California First District Court of Appeal, the hospital is requesting that order be overturned.
From the Oakland Tribune:
The hospital’s motion states that Nailah Winkfield, Jahi’s mother, has had enough time to find a facility that would accept her daughter. “No such facility has been identified and it’s not plausible that a medical facility will be identified to care for such a person,” according to the hospital.
The family’s court filings said a facility in Medford, N.Y., is willing to take Jahi and provide 24-hour medical care, but the facility did not return calls for comment on Tuesday.
The hospital is also fighting the family’s request for a federal court to order Jahi be kept on a ventilator. The hospital’s filing argued that because she had already died, no irreparable harm would be suffered from turning it off.
Jahi’s brain damage occurred after she went into cardiac arrest following post-surgical bleeding. The procedures aimed to cure severe sleep apnea.
On Tuesday, the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network said publicly for the first time that it has been helping Jahi’s family for weeks to find a place to transfer the 13-year-old Oakland girl declared brain-dead by doctors. The network has worked “in relative silence for the sake of the sensitivity of her case….”
The brother and mother of Schiavo participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, marking the first medical facility in the country dedicated to the Florida woman.
Schiavo, languishing in a persistent vegetative state, was the subject of fierce and prolonged legal, political, and cultural battles in the 1990s and 2000s. She died in 2005 after her feeding tube was removed. Her case is different from McMath’s because she was not declared brain dead.
Here’s the link to the New Beginnings Community Center for Brain Injury Rehabilitation, where the family wants Jahi to be moved. Its online mission statement says the organization’s goal is “to help develop state of the art long-term rehabilitation services to survivors of traumatic brain injury and other cognitive and physical disorders. In order to help those who are on a journey of recovery, New Beginnings will help facilitate a holistic approach to survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other physical and cognitive disorders, offer support for their families, and raise awareness for the needs of this growing community.”
The website says owner Allyson Scerri started the center after her father suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident. Her bio says she “has worked with the public for three decades as owner of a thriving beauty salon and successful hair and make-up platform artist. Her work as a social advocate and leader in the health field began years ago when she started a support group for women with infertility problems.”
From NBC Bay Area:
In a Dec. 29 letter to (the family’s lawyer) Dolan, Scerri wrote that she was “aware of Jahi McMath’s dire situation and we are willing to open our outpatient facility” to her in a new facility called The Brendan House, which is “near completion.” She wrote that she would provide Jahi with nursing staff, licensed respiratory therapists and a pediatrician. Her letter does not address cost, or who would pay for the services. On a New Beginnings Facebook post, the organization notes that “this child has been defined as a deceased person yet she has all the functional attributes of a living person despite her brain injury.”
New Beginnings has been posting about the case on its Facebook page, where some commenters have been leaving confrontational posts.
Two California facilities have previously turned down requests to take Jahi.
NBC Bay Area has posted a video of an interview with Dr. Paul Byrne, who filed a declaration with the motion by Jahi’s family in federal court. AP reports that Byrne states that he visited Jahi’s bedside and observed her responding to her grandmother’s voice and touch by moving. In the video, Byrne, who does not believe brain death is equivalent to the end of life, says Jahi is “not truly dead.”
ABC7′s Dan Ashley spoke yesterday with a grief-stricken Nailah Winkfield, Jahi McMath’s mother, after the court extended the restraining order against removing the ventilator. Winkfield says she believes Jahi will wake up. “There’s too many cases that I’ve read, that I’ve seen, of people having brain damage and they’re waking up. And it’s not like a myth, these are actual things that have happened. So I just feel like why can’t they happen to my daughter?”
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.
Finally, KPIX has posted raw video of a finger-pointing confrontation between family lawyer Chris Dolan and Children’s Hospital Oakland spokesman Sam Singer. Singer said Dolan was helping to “perpetuate a hoax.” Dolan, a personal injury attorney who said he had taken the McMath case for free, called Singer a “spin doctor.” Click here for that video.Related