Hospital may not allow transfer of girl declared brain dead

OAKLAND (BCN)

Children’s Hospital Oakland cast doubt this evening whether a 13-year-old girl declared brain dead earlier this month could be transferred to another facility, despite the family announcing earlier that they had found another facility in the Bay Area willing to keep her on life support.

Jahi McMath’s uncle Omari Sealey said the family is “still hoping for a miracle” and “may have gotten one” by finding another facility to take Jahi and “give her another fighting chance to wake up.”

But Children’s Hospital shot back a statement an hour later, saying that the family’s attorney has said that multiple surgical procedures will be necessary to move Jahi and that he has not specified the facility they hope to transfer her to.

“Children’s Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice,” chief of pediatrics David Durand said.

Doctors at Children’s declared Jahi to be brain dead on Dec. 12, three days after she went to the hospital for what her family said was supposed to be a routine tonsillectomy to cure a sleep apnea problem that made it difficult for her to sleep.

However, Children’s doctors said the surgery was complex.

Children’s Hospital has sought to remove Jahi from life support since then and was given permission in a ruling Tuesday by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo to remove her ventilator after Dec. 30 because the hospital’s determination was made by accepted medical practice.

The court had previously ruled that another doctor agreed upon by both the hospital and Jahi’s family make an independent determination about Jahi’s condition.

But despite the bleak determination, Jahi’s family has not given up hope that she might recover, and is working to move her to the new care facility as soon as possible.

While the family has not revealed the name or location of the new care facility, an attorney for the family said that it is in the greater Bay Area and that the costs of keeping Jahi on life support will be paid by insurance.

Sealey said that a small procedure needs to be worked out with Children’s Hospital before Jahi is moved but they are working to move her before Grillo’s ruling takes effect.

“They pretty much gave us a ticking time bomb here of Dec. 30,” he said.

“We’ve seen her blood pressure go to normal and be able to stay normal,” Sealey said. “She’s still showing signs of breathing on her own, so we’re still very hopeful.”

But Durand reiterated in his statement that the determination by Children’s Hospital is that Jahi is brain dead with no hope of recovery.

“(Judge Grillo) ruled Jahi McMath to be deceased and instructed the hospital to maintain the status quo,” Durand said. “Judge Grillo did not authorize or order any surgical procedures or transfer to another facility.”

(Copyright 2013 Bay City News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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