Skip to comments.Judge Grants Request From Jahi McMath’s Family to Extend Life Support
Posted on 12/30/2013 4:47:11 PM PST by Morgana
The judge who is adjudicating the case of the family of the teenage girl in California who is the subject of a national debate over whether a hospital has the right to yank life support has granted an extension.
A county judge extended the order for the hospital to keep Jahi McMath on life support until 5 p.m. on January 7. Her mother and family say she is alive.
Jahis 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, Jahis uncle, Omari Sealey, said Monday afternoon, only about an hour before an Alameda County judges 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 mothers voice.
Jahi is moving when her mother speaks, he said. We have video our attorneys have just produced it to the hospitals 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 hospitals rush to extinguish Jahis chance at life.
Meanwhile, just three hours before the deadline, the girls 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 ones [an alternative care facility] gonna come through. I know it. I feel it. Jahis moving. If shes moving, the doctor should pay attention to that, she said.
Jahi McMaths family had found a new care facility that will continue her medical care and treatment. But the hospital she is at now wont 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 Childrens 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! Childrens 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 teenagers case:
I just found out that the facility my daughter was supposed to be going to has backed out, Jahis mother, Nailah Winkfield, wrote on the familys 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, Jahis 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 Childrens 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 didnt want media attention or to jeopardize its relationship with its doctors, who refused to treat someone whos been declared brain dead.
As Jahis 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 Childrens 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.
Jahis 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 Jahis 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 courts 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.
Its 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 Childrens Hospital Oaklands ICU. She said the facility has a real calling to serving the African-American community, and this has hurt trust. Thats why I was upset to hear a hospital spokesman say he was gratified that the court validated the hospitals 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.
Thank goodness! Let her family decide.
She’s dead, Jim.
On the off chance that there is a snowballs chance in hell I do hope this child wakes up. Even if she’s never quite right at least she woke up.
If she’s truly dead as the hospital claims then this family needs serious counciling. Their desire to keep her on machines could stem from their guilt of putting her under the knife instead of feeding her healthy food and exercising with her.
For how long? And who is paying for this mechanical treatment?
Does the girl’s heart beat? What keeps that in rhythm? Would her stomach digest food if given? The hospital is handling this very poorly. I would guess the other facility has had some serious contacts from the hospital admin that they better not get involved in any way.
While my intent was to use the word “medical”, I think my typo was apropos. They aren’t administering medical treatment, it’s merely mechanically keeping the bellows and pump in her chest moving. When it comes to this kind of prolonging of bodily functions, I’m with Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, “You spend all this time figuring out if you could, you never stopped to think about whether you should.”
And the operation was to relieve a sleep apnea problem....not tonsillitis.
I'm betting this kid had a lot of problems.
“Thank goodness! Let her family decide.”
Most important is that her mother says she is alive and I’m sure the family is paying the hospital bills. Therefore, it is none of the hospital’s or the judge’s business.
I feel bad for the family.
But dead is dead. I don’t think artificially keeping her alive because you don’t want your daughter to be dead is solid reasoning.
You got her past Christmas and I’m glad for you. But it’s time to accept the fact that your daughter is no longer among the living.
This is a tough one, isn’t it? No one wants to see a kid die... but if she is truly brain dead, then that’s it.
Is still find I’m torn because around 35 years ago my great aunt either fell and smacked her head... or had something happen in her brain causing her to fall.
In the hospital, the doctors said she was beyond hope and they wanted to stop life support. My great-uncle fought them for awhile, but eventually my grandmother went to be with her brother because they were going to turn the life-support off.
Well... the woman came out of her coma. She wound up being fine... no real problems from the event (she had been a bit dotty prior... she liked to Windex light switches after people touched them and her house was SPOTLESS)... but she ended up outliving my great-uncle.
So ... I can understand how a mom might feel that the daughter is responding and I can imagine this is a terrible call to have to make.
And you know this how?
FWIW, keeping a patient on life support in an intensive care unit costs, at a minimum, $2,000-$4,000 per day and can run much higher depending on the patients condition, into hundreds of thousands a year.
Nobody recovers from brain death. Ever.
This doctor was also brain dead at one point:
No, he wasn't.
Here's what's happening to Jahi's brain right now. There is no brain activity whatsoever. None. It is not getting blood circulation. The cells are breaking down. Her brain is decomposing. Soon it will turn into a liquid and flow out of her nose.
She is not coming back to life.
Is a coma the same thing as being brain dead?
Read the book.
No. People in comas still have brain activity.
If the family was not paying the bills, have no standing in the courtroom.
Furthermore, the mother thinks that her daughter is living.
Do you want to live in a country where an elected judge decides if you’re dead or alive?
I wish I had been older at the time. No... a coma isn’t the same as being brain-dead... but the docs were telling my uncle that she was beyond hope and they felt they should cease the life-support.
Removal of tonsils and adenoids is protocol for childhood sleep apnea. The c-pap mask is not the first option. If the child is overweight (like this poor soul) then the doc should make that the first protocol, followed by the mask. It’s frightening that the medical “profession” goes straight for surgery.
Judges didn't declare McMath dead. Doctors did. All of them. And a coroner.
Clarification for my post 22: By “that” I mean weight loss.
Dr. Alexander went into a meningitis-induced coma. Parts of his brain shut down, or went "off-line."
He was never declared brain dead. His brain was still functioning, still receiving oxygen. There's a world of difference between Dr. Alexander's condition and that of Jahi McMath, for whom there is no brain activity whatsoever.
That is so not true. Her heart is beating. She is not dead.
The concept of 'brain dead' is a new concept. It was developed to help families cope with the sorrow of organ donation. Families were able to give permission to donate organs if they were told the loved one was dead.
Yes, exactly. This dispute was almost certainly kicked off by the hospital's high-handed and supremely arrogant behavior toward this family.
Having been on the wrong end of such officious treatment by doctors and hospitals myself, I understand how this family feels. Many families are quickly cowed into submitting to having the plug pulled prematurely on a loved one. But every once in awhile, some relative will stand up and say "Like hell you won't!"
I wonder if there was a "transplant team" lurking in the background, just waiting to swoop in and "harvest" the girl's organs?
That is often the motivation behind hospital pressuring parents into too-hastily consigning their children to death.
And how many people know that the definition of "brain death" was conjured up just in the last few decades ... for the very purpose of promoting transplantion of "fresh" organs from still-living patients (i.e., still alive, by the traditional definition of death).
Such a rosy picture is painted by the organ transplant industry, that few people know the ugly truth about what actually happens when organs are "harvested" from a patient who has been declared "brain dead" (who, at that point, ceases to be considered a patient).
As the transplant surgeons cut into the un-anesthetized
patient's donor's vital organs, his or her body often thrashes about violently ... even a "brain dead" patient resists this atrocious assault on his or her body.
Okay. I’m just saying that miracles can happen.
Might have been the parent’s choice.
"Brain dead" is not a new concept. It has been around for at least 45 years.
My local California paper reported the cost is $10,000/day.
I was researching childhood sleep apnea because my son (who is actually very skinny) snores so badly. That’s when I learned that anesthetizing a small body then slicing and dicing is the first protocol. I’m appalled by that. If my son does have this issue I will insist on other options and not slicing and dicing; however, some parents might want what they think is a quick fix. Perhaps this poor soul’s parents wanted the quick fix instead of stepping up, being parents, and cooking good food and exercising with the child (if her sleep apnea was weight related).
Not to people in Jahi's condition.
And this is part of the problem. Everyone is filling this family up with false hope, with anecdotes of loved ones who miraculously pulled through. But these tales were of people who weren't brain dead! This girl's brain is quickly turning into putrefied jelly. She is NOT coming back.
The only thing that is taking place is a media circus pressuring the hospital to continue ventilating a corpse at great expense on a machine that could otherwise be used to actually save someone else's life.
No it is not. One who is in a coma can have brain activity. One who is brain dead will have no electrical evidence on testing. The brain ceases to function and without mechanical support by way of ventilator, the body will stop functioning as well. When the ventilator is turned off, there could still be a heart beat for a short time and other organs may function but it will stop, all functions and systems will shut down.
My husband was not in the actua ICU, he was in an acute care room one the med surg floor and our charge for each day was 12,000+ per day. I too am in CA.
There is no one definition. There is no consensus. "Brain dead" varies in different countries.
It's fine with me if you are willing to donate your organs while you are "brain dead" according to one of the many definitions and according to whatever definition the doctor attending you is using.
let her family pay as well....
I am not in support of the ghouls in organ donation.
I understand why they are interested in pushing the button for harvesting her for valuable parts to save others. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
She’s been on life support for a week, and in that time, I would hope that they have tested her repeatedly (daily?) for brain function.
Think of it like a PC, the CPU is fried, and it won’t pass POST. Yet the power supply still works...should I leave it plugged in hoping that it will somehow start up again ?
That’s kinda where we’re at here.
there are no good guys nor bad guys here.....I don't blame the parents for being completely blind to the fact that their child has passed, and I certainly don't blame the medical community for wanting this debacle to end peacefully, at the child's pace, which would happen when all the machines are turned off....
we are not God....we can not make everyone live a full life....we do not have the power....
I’m familiar with all that. And if that is *really* the case there is no hope.
I’m also familiar with newspaper reporters who report information that is incorrect and with surgeons who may make value judgements about who is actually brain dead.
Isn’t it interesting that there are so many people who have very alive functioning organs but their brain is totally supposedly dead.
I agree with your sentiments entirely. Keeping a body “alive” like this is just ghoulish. This is a very different situation than a person in a coma, for example.
“Isnt it interesting that there are so many people who have very alive functioning organs but their brain is totally supposedly dead.”
You mean, like those people who pull the (D) lever in the voting booth every two years?
Oh I am pretty sure the family is NOT paying the hospital bills. The insurance would have paid for the operation. If the family is using mediCal then the taxpayer is footing the bill.
It is the hospitals business because this tragic case emphasizes that not every person can be maintained on a ventilator. There are limited resources available to any hospital. I feel so sorry for the parents of this young girl but she is long gone from this world. I hope that they can come to some resolution with out driving themselves crazy
“And this is part of the problem. Everyone is filling this family up with false hope, with anecdotes of loved ones who miraculously pulled through. But these tales were of people who weren’t brain dead! This girl’s brain is quickly turning into putrefied jelly. She is NOT coming back.”
This is certainly true, and this exact situation probably happens hundreds of times a day in this country, with no controversy, medical or spiritual, and the machines are turned off. What made this exceptional was the apparent health of the person before the operation and their age.
“If the family was not paying the bills, have no standing in the courtroom.”
and just where did you get your law degree??? This is a minor child and the parents therefore have standing. The hospital is acting in loco parentis and that is what is being argued in court
“Furthermore, the mother thinks that her daughter is living.”
I am glad the mother has feelings they have nothing to do with reality and facts.
“Do you want to live in a country where an elected judge decides if youre dead or alive?”
The judge is making no such decision. You have your panties in a twist over an issue that is traumatic and painful for the family. Doctor’s are not God. They make the decisions they make based on the best evidence available to them. Turn the ventilator off and see if this young girl can breathe. If she doesn’t then her brain is not working and she truly is not just brain dead but dead dead.
Always dangerous to paint every situation with your painful experiences from the past.
You are making statements that are all too broad and over generalized and frankly they are out and out lies. IF this story had happened in China then maybe I would agree with you. This child has been brain dead long enough and on a ventilator to make any of her organs useless in a transplant. Your ignorance is only superseded by your pain
so glad that you are so well medically trained. no doubt you will hang out your shingle to help all the rest of us not so specially educated and yes that is sarcasm
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