Thirteen-year-old Jahi McMath was supposed to be removed from life support yesterday, but to the relief of her family, a judge decided to give them another week to find somewhere to place her. Jahi was determined to be brain dead following a tonsillectomy earlier in December and has been on a ventilator since. The hospital Jahi is at will be allowed to remove her from life support on January 7 if the family is unable to transfer her to another facility in time.
Jahi McMath went in for a routine tonsillectomy at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California on December 9. The young girl reportedly suffered complications from the surgery, which led to bleeding and cardiac arrest. Jahi’s doctors said she was brain dead on December 12. Since doctors say there is absolutely no activity in Jahi’s brain and zero chance for improvement, they want to remove her from life support, which her family is fighting.
After the hospital sought to remove Jahi from life support, her family got a temporary restraining order blocking the hospital from doing so, which was set to expire yesterday at 5 p.m. The family received an extension for the restraining order yesterday, which will give them another week to locate a facility.
Some of Jahi’s family members say they videotaped her moving on Monday. “Jahi is moving when her mother speaks,” Omari Sealey, Jahi’s uncle, 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.”
While hospital spokesperson Sam Singer couldn’t comment on Jahi’s movements, he said that such movements are “not unusual, not shocking, and not a sign of life.”
Nailah Winkfield, Jahi’s mother, has raised more than $30,000 for placement at another facility through GoFundMe.org. On December 27, Winkfield said that the hospital messed up a transfer for Jahi on the fundraiser page. “I was just informed that the hospital my daughter was going to be airlifted to has backed out due to lack of Cooperation from Children’s Hospital Oakland,” Winkfield said.
Sealey also spoke of the hospital messing up arrangements to transfer Jahi. “The family has located a licensed facility in the state of New York which has agreed to take Jahi,” Sealey said on Monday. “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.” Even though the family made the arrangements, Sealey said that the Children’s Hospital wouldn’t “allow us to proceed in that manner.”
Since the hospital determined Jahi to be dead under California law, this will make her family’s efforts at locating another facility even more difficult. “The doctors at the new facility would need to understand they’re taking a deceased person on a ventilator,” Singer said. Singer also noted that transferring Jahi would have to be “done in accordance with coroner’s laws on transporting dead bodies.”
Getting Jahi to another facility before the hospital can legally remove her from life support seems to be an uphill battle for the family. Even though some people have criticized Winkfield for not letting her child go, Winkfield doesn’t care about what anyone else thinks. “Who wants to know the date and the time their child would die?” Winkfield 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.”
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