Judge Grants Request From Jahi McMath’s Family to Extend Life Support

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 30, 2013   |   8:39PM   |   Oakland, CA

The judge who is adjudicating the case of Jahi McMath has granted an extension for life support after a legal request from her family’s attorney.

A county judge extended the order for Oakland-based Children’s Hospital to keep Jahi McMath on life support until 5 p.m. on January 7. Her mother and family say she is alive following a tonsillectomy gone awry that has left her in an incapacitated state since early December.

Jahi’s family has a door-to-door ambulance flight contracted to take her to a New York facility that will care for her.

“The family has located a licensed facility in the state of New York which has agreed to take Jahi,” Jahi’s uncle, Omari Sealey, said Monday afternoon, only about an hour before an Alameda County judge’s order keeping the girl on a ventilator was set to expire. “We have contracted with an air ambulance willing to take her from door to door. We have a doctor here in California who will be with her throughout the transfer.”

Sealey said Jahi has been responsive to her mother’s voice.

“Jahi is moving when her mother speaks,” he said. “We have video our attorneys have just produced it to the hospital’s attorney. We have a pediatrician who has seen Jahi who has sworn that she is not dead. We are hopeful that one of these (legal) actions will forestall the hospital’s rush to extinguish Jahi’s chance at life.”

Meanwhile, just three hours before the deadline today for removing her life support, the girl’s grandmother, Sandra Chapman spoke to the media and suggested Jahi was moving her body, saying there was leg and body movement as well as response to touch and voice.

“I know one’s [an alternative care facility] gonna come through. I know it. I feel it. Jahi’s moving. If she’s moving, the doctor should pay attention to that,” she said.

Jahi McMath’s family had found a new care facility that will continue her medical care and treatment. But the hospital she is at now won’t cooperate to move her.

A judge had ruled that a hospital in Oakland, California can remove life support from Jahi McMath, 13, who has been declared brain-dead days after undergoing surgery to have her tonsils removed. Her family is already devastated enough but has had to fight the hospital, which wanted to take her off life support against their wishes.

On Thursday, the lawyer for the family, Christopher Dolan, asked Children’s Hospital of Oakland to cooperate by performing a few procedures needed to move Jahi McMath. The hospital said no.

The Los Angeles-area long-term care facility that had been willing to accept Jahi has withdrawn its offer, leaving a New York hospital as the only apparent option for. That is happening as a deadline of 5 p.m. today reaches, whereby the hospital will officially cut offer her life support.

“I just found out that the facility my daughter was supposed to be going to has backed out! Children’s hospital has once again interfered with the placement of my daughter we still have a chance at 1 more facility so let us all pray,” family member Latasha Nailah Winkfield said.

The San Jose newspaper has more on this teenager’s case:

“I just found out that the facility my daughter was supposed to be going to has backed out,” Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, wrote on the family’s fundraising website early Sunday. “My family and I are still striving to find a location that will accept her in her current condition.”

That leaves an unnamed New York hospital “as our last, last hope,” Jahi’s lawyer, Christopher Dolan, said. The facility is run by an “organization that believes in life,” Dolan told The Associated Press.

But in a statement issued Sunday, a spokeswoman for Children’s Hospital Oakland said its doctors said no one from any other medical organization has been in contact with it to discuss a transfer of the 13-year-old.

“Our physicians have yet to receive a single call or message from the facility under consideration,” Cynthia Chiarappa wrote. “We have been waiting since Friday — when we were first told by the family lawyer of a potential facility that might accept the body of Jahi — for a call from a physician to discuss with our medical staff what may be necessary to transfer the deceased.”

Dolan said the unnamed Los Angeles-area facility withdrew its offer because it didn’t want media attention or to jeopardize its relationship with its doctors, who refused to treat someone who’s been declared brain dead.



As Jahi’s family prepared for a Sunday afternoon fundraiser at an Oakland church to help pay for a possible airlift, it remained unclear what will happen in the hours ahead.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital have refused to perform a tracheotomy for breathing and insert a gastric tube for feeding, procedures that are needed in order to transfer Jahi, saying it is unethical to perform surgery on a deceased person.

Jahi’s family is raising funds for her support. You can help by going to www.gofundme.com/jahi-mcmath

Jahi arrived at the hospital on a Monday and was supposed to be released Tuesday, the family said.
A member of Jahi’s family , a veteran nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, noticed her granddaughter 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.

Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that Jahi must be kept on the breathing machine until at least 5 p.m. December 30. The verdict came after hearing testimony from two doctors, one an independent expert appointed by the judge on Monday and the other a 30-year veteran of the hospital. Both testified that the teen is brain-dead and that her body is alive only because of a ventilator hooked up to her since December 12.

The family has appealed the decision but pro-life attorney Wesley Smith said it is unlikely they will prevail.

“The judge gave the family, still fighting the determination, until Monday to appeal or adjust to the tragic reality,” he said. “I hope the family spends the remaining time loving Jahi and making preparations, as there is zero chance in my view that the court’s ruling will be overturned on appeal. If a miracle is to happen, it will have to be when the breathing assistance is removed. People who are brain dead have no ability to breathe on their own.”

“It’s also a shame the hospital has handled the tragedy so maladroitly. I was speaking about this to a former pediatric nurse who used to work in Children’s Hospital Oakland’s ICU. She said the facility has a real calling to serving the African-American community, and this has hurt trust. That’s why I was upset to hear a hospital spokesman say he was “gratified” that the court validated the hospital’s diagnosis,” Smith continued. “No, the proper and decent thing would have been to say that they were sorry the original diagnosis was affirmed. Good grief.”