Family of girl declared brain-dead wants death certificate revoked

A photograph of 13-year-old Jahi McMath is seen on a necklace in Oakland, California December 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

(Reuters) - The family of a California girl declared brain-dead after complications from a tonsillectomy has begun legal action to revoke her death certificate, re-igniting an emotional case that has drawn international attention and the support of pro-life groups. Jahi McMath, who was 13 last year when she suffered bleeding, brain swelling and cardiac arrest after surgery for sleep apnea at an Oakland hospital, has responded to her mother's voice, and her family will file a petition next week asking that the child be once again declared alive, their lawyer said Thursday. Attorney Chris Dolan said he planned to show video of Jahi responding to her mother, Latasha Winkfield, at news conferences scheduled for Thursday and Friday, part of the evidence he plans to introduce in court. Dolan alerted court officials to the impending action via email last week, and on Tuesday, an Alameda Court judge said he would consider the request on Oct. 9. Judge Evilio Grillo also said he was not sure that he still had jurisdiction in the case, which ended when Jahi was declared dead and moved from Children's Hospital of Oakland to a facility in New Jersey earlier this year, after her mother went to court to prevent her from being taken off life support. The chief medical officer of the hospital, where the surgery took place and where doctors declared the child brain-dead, expressed sympathy for the family on Thursday. "We trust that the California courts, the Alameda County Coroner and the State of California will evaluate any claims made by the family's attorneys and decide them in a lawful and just manner," said Dr. David Durand, senior vice president of the hospital, now affiliated with the University of California at San Francisco and called UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland. Dolan declined to say whether Jahi was still in the New Jersey long-term care facility, or whether she was still in that state. (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)