In a brain death court case, the judges have ruled that a teen is to be taken off life support. The ruling came on Christmas Eve but the hospital is still to take action. The family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath is still fighting for a way to give her a chance of life.
The family has until Dec. 30 to lodge an appeal. It is a difficult time and the family is looking into all options to help keep the Northern Californian girl alive.
McMath’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, disagreed with Children’s Hospital of Oakland when they wanted to remove life support. It left the hospital no choice but to file papers with the court. The hospital had determined on Dec. 12 that there was no brain activity, even in the brain stem, which means brain death.
The court originally agreed with the family that the teenager should be examined by a court-appointed neurologist. The court would then make a final decision depending on the results that came back. During the tests, the neurologist determined that McMath could not breathe unaided. The breathing tube was removed for a short period of time to determine this.
The brain death court ruling now means that the teen is to be taken off life support. The hospital cannot do anything until 5pm, Dec. 30, in case the family decides to lodge an appeal. The uncle of McMath has already made it clear that there is an option to keep the girl alive, but the hospital is now standing in the way of that.
The option would be to put the 13-year-old into a nursing home. She would receive around the clock care from people who want “to help keep her alive.” To be able to move to this undisclosed facility, the family needs the hospital to insert breathing and feeding tubes. However, Children’s Hospital of Oakland is refusing to do this. Since the judge declared the girl brain dead, the hospital’s policy deems the medical procedure on “the body of a deceased person” to be “inappropriate.”
This is not a question of money, either. The family’s insurance company has already agreed to pay for the procedures so that the teenagre can be moved to the nursing home.
The family had offers from two other nursing facilities—one in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco—to help keep the teen alive. However, due to the media attention, they decided to back out. The family is keeping the name of the latest nursing home quiet to avoid the chances of it backing out like the others.
McMath went into the hospital for a routine tonsillectomy to help her sleep apnea. According to Winkfield, the 13-year-old had already expressed fears that she would go into surgery and never wake up. These risks are minimal but are still possible even with routine operations. The teen may be taken off life support if the court upholds its brain death ruling later today.
By Alexandria Ingham