Family Sends Cease and Desist Letter to Hospital Threatening to Pull the Plug on Daughter

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 18, 2013   |   2:13PM   |   Oakland, CA

There has been a new development in the case of Jahi McMath, 13, who has been declared brain-dead just days after undergoing surgery to have her tonsils removed. Her family is already devastated enough but now they are fighting the hospital, which wants to take her off life support against their wishes.

Now, the family’s attorney has sent Children’s Hospital Oakland a cease and desist letter.

Relatives of 13-year-old Jahi Mcmath took their case to a lawyer who served the hospital a cease and desist letter that says the hospital does not have the family’s consent to remove life support without permission. The letter blocks the hospital from taking the young girl off of life support without consent and prevents it from taking any action regarding the case without the family’s permission.

Her mother Nailah Winkfield is not giving up, telling local media: “Every time I go in there I let her know I will not let them take you to the coroner’s office Jahi. I won’t, because I believe that she can hear everything that’s going around. If she knew how much media attention she had right now, she’d be so embarrassed because she’s very shy.”

For more on the new letter:

However, the next steps remained unclear, and privacy laws left the hospital unable to comment on the case or “correct misperceptions created about this sad situation,” the chief of pediatrics said in a written statement.

The move by relatives of Jahi McMath brought a potential legal element into an unusual — though not unprecedented — case that has captured widespread attention.

Family members have been hoping for a recovery, though, and have accused doctors of pressuring them to remove Jahi from machines that are helping her breathe. The girl’s uncle, Omari Sealey, hand-delivered a cease-and-desist letter to doctors on Tuesday written by San Francisco attorney Christopher Dolan.

The letter cited the California Patient Bill of Rights and asked top hospital officials to “refrain from any actions or activities which would remove Jahi from life support” until there is a “judicial determination” in the matter.

“If they move without our consent after having this letter in their hands,” Sealey said, “they’re just creating more problems for themselves.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Dolan, surrounded by family members, said the hospital had agreed to keep Jahi on life support indefinitely, even as a second test Tuesday confirmed the girl had no brain activity. “There is no timeline currently,” he said. “That gives the family time to hold a prayer vigil (Wednesday night) and seek to have some kind of divine intervention.”



Dolan said Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, had a “full and frank discussion” with doctors on Tuesday about her daughter’s prognosis.
“The mother understands the progression that could take place,” Dolan said. “The mother’s aware of how conditions could deteriorate or stay the same. She is just of the mind that this is not something that should be rushed, and that it’s something that she wants to talk to God (about).”

Conservative writer Michelle Malkin has taken up the Jahi’s family’s case on Twitter.

“I don’t care what your politics are. All hearts should go out to McMath family. Praying for a miracle,” she tweeted. “Medical bureaucrats & state officials called Haleigh Poutre “brain dead” & wrote her off. They were wrong. All life is precious. 8th grader on life support after tonsillectomy gone wrong.”

Jahi’s family, including her mother, Nailah Winkfield, huddled by her side at Children’s Hospital Oakland these last several days calling on the community for prayers and searching for answers on what went wrong during what was supposed to be a one-night stay for the family favorite. Jahi arrived at the hospital Monday and was supposed to be released Tuesday, the family said.

Monday night, her family noticed Jahi was bleeding from her mouth and nose. She later went into cardiac arrest. Jahi spent Tuesday on a ventilator. By 2 a.m. Wednesday, doctors said she had swelling in her brain, and Thursday, she was declared legally brain-dead, family members said.