Judge extends order preventing hospital from taking Jahi McMath off of a ventilator

 

By Dave Andrusko

Omari Sealey makes a statement to the media on the condition of his niece Jahi McMath on Monday. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press / December 30, 2013)

Omari Sealey makes a statement to the media on the condition of his niece Jahi McMath on Monday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press / December 30, 2013)

At the eleventh hour Monday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo extended his temporary restraining that prevented doctors from Children’s Hospital Oakland from taking 13-year-old Jahi McMath off a ventilator. Judge Grillo’s original order was set to expire at 5:00 pm west coast time.

Jahi has been diagnosed by physicians, including Dr. Paul Fisher, a court-appointed pediatric neurologist from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, as brain-dead. Her family challenges the diagnosis, saying Jahi responds to her mother’s voice. They want the teenager transferred to a facility in New York that they say is willing to accept her for long-term care.

On a separate track, a state appeals court also issued a 24-hour stay yesterday, “declaring that Jahi must remain on the ventilator through 5 p.m. Tuesday, until the court can hear the family’s case,” the Oakland Tribune reported. (CNN reported this morning that the family is also “filing a new complaint in federal court requesting a temporary restraining order and an injunction to prevent the hospital from disconnecting Jahi from life support.”)

On Monday afternoon, Omari Sealey, Jahi’s uncle, said, “The family has located a licensed facility in the state of New York which has agreed to take Jahi.” He added, “We have contracted with an air ambulance willing to take her from door to door. We have a doctor here in California who will be with her throughout the transfer.” He told the Tribune that nonetheless, Children’s Hospital will not “allow us to proceed in that manner.”

Sam Singer, a hospital spokesman, said doctors would comply with the court orders. But Singer also said attorneys for Children’s Hospital Oakland would file motions opposing the family’s request “so this tragedy may have a conclusion.” According to the Tribune

“Singer said that despite the family’s claims about other facilities taking custody of Jahi, the hospital had not had any substantial conversations with any of those facilities. He said documentation that the family had given the hospital, spelling out plans for the girl’s transfer, was ‘faulty.’”

In order for Jahi to be transferred, breathing and feeding tubes must be inserted. The hospital has refused, saying it is unethical to perform “medical procedures upon a dead body.”

The 8th grader underwent surgery to remove her tonsils, adenoids and extra sinus tissue to treat pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, a condition which made her stop breathing in her sleep and caused other medical problems.

After initially weathering the routine surgery well, Jahi began to bleed profusely and went into cardiac arrest. Three days later the hospital declared her to be brain-dead, a diagnosis Dr. Fisher concurred with last week.