Jahi McMath: Court Extends Life Support Deadline

Jahi McMath reported to the Oakland Children’s Hospital for a routine tonsillectomy on January 9. Within a half hour of waking up from the surgery, the 13-year-old California girl began bleeding uncontrollably. She eventually went into cardiac arrest and was later declared brain dead.

Doctors at the children’s hospital recommended removing all remaining life support, which includes a ventilator. McMath’s parents disagree. They took their pleas to a California court as they refuse to believe the teen is dead.

Although two doctors with the children’s hospital agreed McMath is brain dead, Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ordered evaluation by a third independent neurologist. Dr. Paul Fisher, Chief of Pediatric Neurology at Stanford University, examined the teen and concluded that her brain and brain stem have ceased to function.

As reported by CNN, Fisher said there is no electrical activity or blood flowing to Jahi McMath’s brain, He further concluded that her body will cease to function without the aid of mechanical life support.

Judge Grillo determined the teen’s life had indeed ended and the hospital would turn off the ventilator at 5 pm on December 30. However, moments before the machines were turned off, the judge extended the deadline to January 7.

McMath’s family is currently trying to find a facility that is capable and willing to care for their daughter. However, Oakland Children’s Hospital has refused to cooperate. Fox News reports hospital spokeswoman Cynthia Chiarappa said “this is not transferring an individual in a vegetative state, but a dead body.”

As the teen is being considered a corpse, the hospital said they would need specific permission from the coroner to transport her body. The hospital’s attorney explains that “discussion about performing medical procedures upon a dead body presents unusual and complicated questions.”

The McMath family has strongly criticized hospital and doctors’ harsh bedside manner. They explain that they have “strong religious convictions,” and are hesitant to trust “a doctor who runs the facility that caused the brain death in the first place.”

Jahi McMath’s situation is heartbreaking. If nothing else, Judge Grill has given the family another week to come to terms with the horrific situation.