Late Sunday night, Children’s Hospital Oakland released Jahi Mcmath to her family after a protracted legal battle over whether the hospital had the right to remove her from life support.
On Friday, the hospital reached an agreement with McMath’s family to allow a medical team to enter the hospital to perform the procedures necessary to move her to a medical facility that will continue her care and treatment.
Although the hospital maintains McMath is “brain dead,” her mother and family say she is alive following a tonsillectomy gone awry that has left her in an incapacitated state since early December. The family in the case says the hospital has been starving Jahi for three weeks.
To push the notion that McMath is “brain dead” and unable to recover, the hospital released McMath to the county coronor who, in turn, released McMath to her family. The hospital refused to fit her with a feeding tube or a breathing tube that would help stabilize her during a move.
The Eighth-grader was released to the coroner who then released her into the custody of her mother Latasha Winkfield as per court order, Dr. David Durand, Chief of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland said in a statement. He added that her destination is unknown.
“Our hearts go out to the family as they grieve for this sad situation and we wish them closure and peace,” he said.
McMath left the hospital in a private ambulance shortly before 8 p.m. on Sunday, Christopher Dolan, her family’s attorney, told the Associated Press, although he did not disclose her destination.
She was taken by a critical care team while attached to a ventilator but without a feeding tube, Dolan added.
“It was a very tense situation,” Dolan told the AP. “Everybody played by the rules.”
The Alameda County coroner’s office issued a death certificate for the girl Friday but said the document is incomplete because no cause of death has been determined pending an autopsy.
Dolan wouldn’t specify where the girl was taken but he said “they are going to care for her, respect her and love her. And they’re going to call her Jahi, not ‘the body.'”
“This is a temporary victory in the ongoing fight to protect the right of parents and families to make private medical decisions for their loved ones,” said Bobby Schindler, Executive Director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, and brother of the late Terri Schiavo. “Sadly, these cases are becoming more common in our current medical environment, where government bureaucrats and faceless hospital boards, in the form of ethics committees, strip away the rights of parents and families to make their own decisions regarding medical treatment.”
“Jahi’s fight has only just begun,” said Schindler. “And there are many other families across the country who face similar battles. That’s why it’s so important that people fight back when an ethics committee tries to take away their medical rights. Given our current medical environment, with more and more emphasis on government, we all have reason to worry.”
Last week, a nationally-respected pediatrician said that Jahi McMath, who is at the center of a national debate about whether she should remain on life support, is not “brain dead” and can recover with proper care and nutrition.
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Dr. Paul A. Byrne, a Neonatologist who is the Director of Neonatology and Director of Pediatrics at St. Charles Mercy Hospital in Oregon, Ohio, has given a new interview to a local NBC television station. Byrne is also a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics University of Toledo College of Medicine and the past president of the Catholic Medical Association.
Byrne told the station he does not believe that brain death is “true death” and said, with “proper nutrition and care,” McMath can have meaningful recovery to the degree that she would not meet the “brain death” criteria. He also said as much in court findings that Christopher Dolan, the attorney for McMath’s family.
Late Monday afternoon, the judge in the case granted an extension for life support after a legal request from Dolan.