Family of Jahi McMath, Children’s Hospital at odds over transfer of brain-dead teen
on December 26, 2013
OAKLAND – The family and lawyer of Jahi McMath say they have found a facility in the Bay Area that will accept the 13-year-old girl who lost brain function after a tonsillectomy, but in order to transfer her doctors at Children’s Hospital would have to perform two “routine” medical procedures.
But getting approval for those procedures may prove tricky, according to a statement released by Children’s Hospital Tuesday.
David Durand, Chief of Pediatrics, wrote that Children’s Hospital will stick by a judge’s ruling in Alameda Superior Court that McMath is deceased and her ventilator must be removed on Dec. 30.
“Judge [Evelio] Grillo did not authorize or order any surgical procedures or transfer to another facility,” Durand said. “Children’s Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice.”
At a press conference Tuesday evening, McMath’s uncle Omari Sealey was positive about the day’s developments. McMath’s blood pressure has stabilized and returned to normal, he said. After a full day of phone calls, with the help of a group of Catholic doctors, Sealey and family attorney Chris Dolan were able to find a facility “more than willing” to take McMath and to provide care that is covered by her existing insurance. Dolan couldn’t provide the name of the facility, only saying that it’s “within 50 miles” of Children’s Hospital.
“Right now it looks like we may have found a miracle to keep Jahi alive and give her a fighting chance,” Sealey said.
In order to transport McMath, however, the young girl will need both a tracheostomy tube and a gastric tube inserted to help with breathing and to provide nutrition. Given the statement issued immediately following Sealey and Dolan’s announcement, another legal showdown may be imminent.
Before Children’s had responded, Dolan laid out a plan should the hospital refuse to operate.
“If they refuse to do that and insist on moving towards this deadline of pulling the plug, we’ll just continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is to fight in the courts until we find a facility to do these simple procedures,” Dolan said.
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I wish we could get beyond the rhetoric of “pulling the plug”.
There is an interesting article in Discover magazine May 2012 issue called The Beating Heart Donors by Dick Teresi. D. Alan Shewman is a pediatric neurologist at UCLA who dismisses the “brain-death” idea. I am hoping the family of this little girl can speak with this individual and maybe get his help.