NRL News

5:00 deadline looms for family to find care facility willing to take Jahi McMath

by | Dec 30, 2013


By Dave Andrusko

Jahi's parents. Nailah and  Martin Winkfield

Jahi’s parents. Nailah and Martin Winkfield

With a 5:00 pm deadline rapidly approaching, the family of Jahi McMath is desperately scrambling to find a facility willing to care for the 13-year-old who was declared brain-dead following a routine tonsillectomy earlier this month.

The hospital’s position is clear. According to the San Francisco Chronicle

“Children’s Hospital Oakland officials confirmed Sunday they will turn off the machines sustaining Jahi McMath’s body as soon as a legal injunction expires at 5 p.m. Monday unless otherwise ordered by a court. ‘Barring any other court-order legal action by the family, the ventilator will be shut off at 5 p.m. tomorrow,’ said hospital spokesman Sam Singer. ‘It’s tremendously sad, but that’s what’s going to occur.’”

Last week, Dr. Paul Fischer, an independent neurologist appointed by Alameda Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo, concurred with the hospital that Jahi was brain dead. Judge Grillo’s order to keep Jahi on a ventilator expires today. He had encouraged the family and the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland to find a resolution.

The hospital has resisted both a transfer and performing surgery to insert breathing and feeding tubes which must be done before she could be transferred. The hospital said in court papers that “practically and legally,” there is no course of medical treatment to administer, according to the Los Angeles Times. The hospital did say on Friday it was willing to work with the family—evidently until 5:00 pm and not a moment longer.

NBC Bay Area reported that two facilities in Southern California withdrew their offers to accept Jahi. Family attorney Chris Dolan told the Times that the family views a care center in New York as its “last, last hope.”

Over the weekend Jahi’s family issued its own statement. According to the Times,

“We wish to acknowledge that Jahi’s case, and our stance regarding her right to life, and her mother’s right to make decisions regarding her child, has stirred a vibrant, sometimes polarizing, national debate. This was never our intention,” the family’s statement said. “We have our strong religious convictions and set of beliefs and we believe that, in this country, a parent has the right to make decisions concerning the existence of their child: not a doctor who looks only at lines on a paper, or reads the cold black and white words on a law that says ‘brain dead’ and definitely not a doctor who runs the facility that caused the brain death in the first place.”

Jahi’s operation took place December 9. After initially responding well, Jahi began bleeding profusely and suffered cardiac arrest, cutting off the flow of oxygen to her brain. She was declared brain dead December 12 which set off an extended legal battle between Jahi’s family and the hospital.

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