Family of girl on life support plans to sue

Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The family of a 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain dead after a tonsillectomy said Monday they will sue to keep her on life support.

Family spokesman Omari Sealey, the uncle of Jahi McMath, disclosed the plan to seek a restraining order against the hospital where the girl is on a breathing machine.

Under an order issued on Dec. 24 by a state judge, Jahi could be removed from a ventilator at Children's Hospital of Oakland at 5 p.m. PST.

The family wants to stop the hospital, saying there is hope for recovery.

Sealey said the family took video of Jahi responding when her mother touched and talked to her. He also said a pediatrician examined her and said she was not dead.

A facility in New York state is willing to take Jahi, and arrangements have been made for medical transport with a doctor by her side, the uncle said.

"We are hopeful one of these (court) actions will forestall the hospital's effort to extinguish Jahi's life," Sealey said.

The teen suffered cardiac arrest after bleeding profusely following her operation earlier this month.

The hospital has declined to comment on its possible actions.

Jahi underwent a tonsillectomy at the hospital on Dec. 9 to treat sleep apnea and other issues. After she awoke from the operation, her family said, she started bleeding heavily and went into cardiac arrest. She was declared brain dead three days later.

The family said on its fundraising website that it had raised more than $25,000 for a possible transfer.

Doctors at Children's Hospital and an independent pediatric neurologist from Stanford University have concluded the girl is brain dead.

On Monday, Sam Singer, a hospital spokesman, reiterated the position of the doctors.

"This is one of the most tragic situations imaginable," Singer said. "A family has long their young daughter. But unfortunately, Jahi is deceased. No amount of hope, prayer or medical procedures will bring her back."

Singer said patient privacy laws require that any updates about the girl's status must come from the family.

"It is in their hands now," Singer said.

Cynthia Chiarappa, a hospital spokeswoman, has said officials would have to understand the capabilities of the New York facility before allowing a possible transfer.

The hospital also said it would need to confirm there is lawful transportation included in any transfer plan and there is written permission from the coroner.

Doctors at Children's Hospital have refused to perform a tracheotomy for breathing and to insert a feeding tube — procedures that would be necessary to transfer Jahi. The hospital has said it's unethical to perform surgery on a person legally declared dead.

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