Jahi McMath Declared Brain Dead By Judge

Update on the Jahi McMath tonsil surgery tragedy:

Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old who was put on life support after tonsil surgery, has been declared legally brain dead by a California judge this afternoon, but the family will have time to appeal his decision.

Jahi will remain on life support at Children’s Hospital of Oakland for the time being, according to the judge’s order. The family has until December 30 at 5 pm to file an appeal. The hospital has asked that Jahi McMath be taken off the ventilator based on the premise that her condition is irreversible, but her family has insisted that she is still alive.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, “The hospital’s attorney, Doug Straus, said it will seek to stop Jahi’s fluids and breathing machine at 5 p.m. Dec. 30 and that officials would like to negotiate a time to remove Jahi from the ventilator before then if the family is open to it.”

Alamedia County Judge Evelio Grillo had ordered a second opinion yesterday from an independent physician, suggesting that the hospital has “no legal obligation” to continue life support if the doctor confirms the teen’s brain dead status.

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That expert, Dr. Paul Graham Fisher, chief of neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine, testified in a court hearing today that Jahi is clinically brain dead.

Jahi went into the hospital on December 9 for a routine tonsillectomy intended to treat sleep apnea, but had complications after the procedure including severe bleeding from the nose and mouth and subsequently went into cardiac arrest. Three days later, she was declared brain dead.

In a court filing submitted yesterday in the Jahi McMath case, the hospital claimed that “Because Ms. McMath is dead, practically and legally, there is no course of medical treatment to continue or discontinue; there is nothing to which the family’s consent is applicable.”