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Hospital agrees not to take girl off of life-support, following cease-and-desist order, next step unclear

by | Dec 18, 2013


By Dave Andrusko


Jahi McMath

Doctors at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, have agreed not to remove a 13-year-old girl who was declared “brain-dead” following a routine tonsillectomy performed last week, from a ventilator. The hospital had intended to take Jahi McMath off life support on Tuesday.

The turnabout came Tuesday afternoon followed a cease-and-desist order hand-delivered by Jahi’s uncle earlier in the day, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

According to press accounts, there appears to be two dynamics at work in the family’s determination that Jahi not be taken off life-support.

First, “The family is of the belief that only God and the mother that bought her into this world should be making the decision as to when she will be leaving this world,” said family attorney Chris Dolan. “And as long as she is living, not in pain, they’re praying for God to intervene to bring life back to their daughter.”

The mother, Nailah Winkfield, also told the Chronicle she believes Jahi is trying to communicate with her. “I feel her. I can feel my daughter. I just kind of feel like maybe she’s trapped inside her own body. She wants to scream out and tell me something.”

She added, “I want her on as long as possible, because I really believe that God will wake her up.”

Second, as Winkfield said outside the hospital earlier Tuesday, “[S]he feared the hospital would ‘cover up’ what happened to her daughter,” the Chronicle reported. “She was angry, saying, ‘Thank you, Children’s Hospital, for just ruining my child’s life and my life.’”

Tonsillectomies are one of the most common surgeries. The December 9, surgery, recommended to address the girl’s sleep apnea and other problems, initially appeared to have gone well.

Sandy Chatman, Jahi’s grandmother who is a nurse, told CNN she saw the girl in the recovery room. “She was alert and talking, and she was asking for a Popsicle because she said her throat hurt,” Chatman said. According to CNN

“But Jahi was then moved to the intensive-care unit, and her relatives were denied access to the eighth-grader for 30 minutes; when they finally were allowed to see her, they knew something was wrong. “Upon entry, they saw that there was way too much blood,” Chatman said.

“We kept asking, ‘Is this normal?'” Sealey said. “Some nurses said, ‘I don’t know,’ and some said, ‘Yes.’ There was a lot of uncertainty and a lack of urgency.”

“Sealey [Jahi’s uncle] said that when Chatman noticed that her granddaughter’s oxygen levels were dangerously low, she called for help.

“But Jahi went into cardiac arrest. The medical staff performed chest compressions to revive her and gave her clotting medications, but nothing worked.”

As the Chronicle’s Henry Lee and Carolyn Jones reported this morning, ”The next steps remained unclear, and privacy laws left the hospital unable to comment on the case or ‘correct misperceptions created about this sad situation,’ the chief of pediatrics said in a written statement.“

Attorney Dolan said Winkfield, had a “full and frank discussion” with doctors on Tuesday about her daughter’s prognosis.

“The mother understands the progression that could take place,” Dolan said, according to Lee and Jones. “The mother’s aware of how conditions could deteriorate or stay the same. She is just of the mind that this is not something that should be rushed, and that it’s something that she wants to talk to God (about).”

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