Jahi McMath Update: Teen Declared Brain-Dead Turns 15 On Life Support

Jahi McMath made headlines for months when her family refused to allow her life support systems to be removed, despite medical declarations that the teenager was brain dead, and would never wake and return to a normal life. Now, nearly two years later, her family has shared an update, initiated a new lawsuit, and declared that the medical teams were wrong, and that Jahi is alive and well, and improving with each day.

The Facebook page, Keep Jahi McMath on Life Support shared an update on Friday, reminding followers that Saturday would be Jahi’s 15th birthday, and pointing out that the teenager’s skin is clear and shows no signs of the deterioration that doctors warned would happen within a few weeks.

Jahi McMath, fifteen and fabulous, declares family. [Image via FacebookWhile they were sharing updates, McMath’s family was also working on the legal side of the teenager’s situation. They have been fighting for the right to submit new evidence that Jahi is alive, and that the doctors who declared her brain-dead were wrong.

According to the Contra Costa Times, the family received permission this week, from an Alemeda County Superior Court judge.

The family claims that 15-year-old McMath is responding to her mother’s commands, and that she does so in increasing amounts. It’s not a new claim, exactly — Jahi’s family was saying the same thing last year, shortly after moving her to a facility in New Jersey.

In fact, a lawyer for McMath’s family, Christopher Dolan, tweeted videos of Jahi purportedly moving both her arm and foot on command, in November of 2014. You can see one of those tweets below.

The main difference is that now Jahi McMath has not been on life support for a few weeks or months, but for nearly two years. She was declared brain-dead on December 13, 2013 — one year and 10 months ago. However, if the family’s assertions are accurate, and the images shared on their Facebook page are truly current, Jahi has not suffered the level of deterioration expected in her case, despite a much greater amount of time passing than the few months that doctors said she would last with machines keeping her alive.

Here’s another recent post from the Keep Jahi McMath on Life Support page, this one shared a few days earlier, on October 21.

Jahi McMath -- alive and well? [Image via FacebookAs you can see, it includes an update from her family, and a photo of Jahi McMath with her mother.

Though the photos do not, at first glance, appear to show any life support machines, a closer look does reveal a mostly-covered tube around Jahi’s neck in the most recent photo, and an older post describes the tracheotomy required to keep Jahi on a ventilator for an extended period of time.

The other photo has Jahi covered to the chin, presumably to cover the tubes.

In many of her photos, Jahi’s eyes are covered, with sunglasses in one shot, and one of the most recent, with heart-shaped bandages.

The family gave further updates to SFGate, stating that Jahi hasn’t merely “not deteriorated” but has shown signs of growth and a maturing body, entering puberty, since being placed on the ventilator.

According to NJ, the lawsuit is in part because Jahi’s family feels the hospital pressured them to take the teenager off life support quickly and donate her organs, inflicting emotional distress, and in part because they feel that it was a case of medical malpractice and neglect, with inaccurate diagnoses and a failure to respond to a problem during surgery quickly enough to avoid inflicting brain damage on Jahi.

Jahi McMath’s family wants the ruling of brain-death reversed, and wants the doctors and facilities held responsible for what the family believes was wrongful treatment, and a failure to follow up that led to Jahi’s current condition.

[Image via Facebook]