January 8, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The body of 13-year-old Jahi McMath may have so deteriorated in the 25 days since she was declared “brain dead” that it may be impossible for her to recover, her family's attorney said today.
On December 8, Jahi McMath experienced severe complications from a tonsillectomy at Children's Hospital in Oakland, California, and fell into a coma. Doctors declared her “brain dead” on December 12.
“I want her on [the ventilator] as long as possible, because I really believe that God will wake her up,” her mother, Nailah Winkfield, said. But in California a person is considered deceased the moment he or she is declared “brain dead.” Hospital attorney Douglas Straus said flatly that the hospital would not perform “medical procedures on the body of a deceased human being.”
The decision generated nationwide sympathy for the young girl and her family.
The Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network (Terri’s Network) joined the battle, issuing a statement last Tuesday that the child “retains all the functional attributes of a living person, despite her brain injury. This includes a beating heart, circulation and respiration, the ability to metabolize nutrition and more. Jahi is a living human being.”
Last Friday, California's Alameda County Superior Court granted the family the right to remove their daughter from Children's Hospital. Winkfield arranged for Jahi to be taken to an unnamed medical facility, which the family hinted is in another state that defines death according to the family's criteria.
But family attorney Christopher Dolan has said it may be too late.
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“Right now, we don't know if she's going to make it,” Dolan said. While he said he cannot disclose personal medical information, “What I can tell you is that those examinations show that her medical condition, separate from the brain issue, is not good.”
He added that the eighth grader cannot be given a feeding tube due to other health issues.
Her family maintained that, according to their religious and philosophical beliefs, a person remains alive as long as his or her heart is beating. Her uncle, Omari Sealey, said, “If her heart stops beating while she's hooked to the ventilator, we can accept that.”