Judge Orders Second Opinion For Teen Declared Brain-Dead After Tonsillectomy

A judge has ordered a second opinion in the case of a teen who was declared brain-dead following a tonsillectomy. Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo halted Children’s Hospital Oakland’s decision to remove life support. Thirteen-year-old Jahi McMath’s family will have the option of choosing an independent neurologist to assess her condition.

Judge Grillo further ordered that if the independent physician determines McMath is indeed brain-dead, the hospital has “no legal obligation” to continue life support. McMath’s family insists that she is still alive.

Nailah Winkfield said her daughter was taken to the children’s hospital for a routine tonsillectomy. However, there were serious complications during surgery and McMath began bleeding uncontrollably. The teen eventually suffered cardiac arrest. She was declared brain-dead on December 12.

As reported by Mercury News, two physicians have agreed that McMath is brain-dead. Chief of pediatrics, Dr. David Durand, issued a statement about the teen’s grave condition:

“When one’s brain ceases to function, it never restarts. We have the deepest sympathy for Jahi’s mother… but the only thing maintaining this child is a ventilator machine… it would be unfair to give false hope that Jahi will come back to life.”

Court documents revealed that both physicians concluded McMath’s entire brain, including her brain stem, has ceased to function.

Winkfield disagrees with the doctors’ assessment. She said that if her daughter remains on life support, God will eventually “spark her brain awake.” MSN News reports the family demanded a second opinion as the physicians who examined the teen were not “sufficiently independent.”

Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo sided with the teen’s family, ordering another independent opinion. However, if McMath is found to be brain-dead, the court will not force the hospital to continue the life support.