The 13-year-old teen who suffered complications from a surgery and was declared brain dead has found a new home at a long-term care nursing facility despite her declared brain death an attorney for the teen’s family said.
13-year-old Jahi McMath had tonsil surgery performed on December 9 at the Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California in order to help her sleep apnea, a dangerous condition where sleepers can stop breathing during the night. According to her family, when McMath was awoken after the operation, she began to bleed from her mouth and flew into cardiac arrest. On December 12, she was declared brain dead by the Children’s Hospital doctors, who wanted to take her off of life support. The family, who believe McMath to still be alive, filed a lawsuit to prevent such action by the hospital.
Judge Evelio Grillo of the Alameda County Superior Court declared on Tuesday in favor of the Children’s Hospital, saying that McMath’s brain death is official and she may be removed from life support on Monday at 5 p.m. provided no appeal is filed.
Another nursing home previously agreed to take McMath, but backed out according to the McMath family lawyer Christopher Dolan. The current facility has not be named for fear the press will overwhelm it, but the location is said to be in southern California.
However, there are other complications to McMath’s transfer aside from her brain death. The nursing facility that is to be the new home for the teen whose brain death made such news is not able to perform two medical procedures vital to her survival; the insertion of a feeding tube and the insertion of a breathing tube. The family has found that the Children’s Hospital is unwilling to perform the procedures as they consider McMath to be deceased and performing surgical procedures on a dead body an inappropriate practice.
Douglas Straus, the hospital’s lawyer, said that the Children’s Hospital would assist the family in moving their daughter, but that they would need to speak to officials at the nursing home to be sure McMath’s condition was completely understood. They also wanted to ensure that preparations for McMath were met, and mentioned that the coroner of Alameda County would be required to sign off on the move as McMath has been declared legally dead. It was also pointed out that Judge Grillo’s ruling did not authorize any type of transfer or approve any surgical procedures.
The family’s lawyer Dolan replied that they already had a signature from the County coroner and that he was hopeful that the officials at the hospital would change their minds about performing the surgery after they had spoken with similar officials at the nursing home. It not, McMath’s options are few. However, Dolan also believes that Judge Grillo may grant the family additional time come Monday, which would allow them to spend more time finding a willing doctor to perform the procedures.
Should these surgeries occur, the brain dead teen should be moved to the new home found for her almost immediately. It is likely that come Monday, the family will have an answer one way or other as to whether they will be able to continue to visit their daughter in a medical setting or if the courts will order her off of life support and into a more certain death.
By Marisa Corley