Family Fights To Keep Brain Dead Teenager On Life Support
A California teenager who was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery three weeks ago will remain alive for another week. Jahi McMath, 13, is currently attached to machines that keep her body functioning and the doctors at Children’s Hospital Oakland say that she will never recover, so they want to take her off the machines. However, her family has objected to this and believe she will eventually make a full recovery. McMath started bleeding heavily after the operation and went into cardiac arrest before being pronounced brain dead three days later.
A heated and potentially historic court battle led to a judge ruling that the hospital must keep McMath on a ventilator until Jan. 7, which will give the family time to file a petition in state appellate court. The family have filed a lawsuit to order the hospital to perform a tracheotomy for breathing and to insert a feeding tube, which would enable her to be transferred to a facility willing to care for her. However, the hospital has refused to perform these procedures because they believe it’s unethical to conduct surgery on a dead person.
“Who wants to know the date and the time their child would die?” said her mother Nailah Winkfield. She also believes her daughter is not dead because she obtained statements from a pediatrician that said her daughter responded to her grandmother’s voice with squirming movements. However, a spokesman for the hospital said that any signs of life McMath shows is simply an involuntary muscle reflex.
“This is one of the most tragic situations imaginable,” said spokesman Sam Singer. “A family has lost their young daughter. But unfortunately, Jahi is deceased. No amount of hope, prayer or medical procedures will bring her back.”
The family said in court filings that a facility in Medford, N.Y. has agreed to take the girl and provide 24-hour medical care. They have already arranged transport via a private jet for $27,950 and have raised almost all of the money for this through a fundraising website.