OAKLAND, Calif. — A California judge has ordered officials at an Oakland hospital to keep a teenage girl who has been declared brain dead on life support while a neurologist performs an independent examination.
As previously reported, last Monday, 13-year-old Jahi McMath underwent a tonsillectmy at Children’s Hospital and Research Center, as doctors had recommended the operation to help alleviate her sleep apnea, irregular weight gain and urination issues.
But her uncle, Omari Sealey, said that the girl was apprehensive even before going under the knife.
“The worst thing about all of this is that Jahi told my sister, ‘I don’t want to get this surgery; something bad is going to happen. I’m not going to wake up,’” he told CNN this week.
McMath reportedly asked for a Popsicle following the procedure, advising that her throat hurt. But soon after, the girl’s family knew that something was terribly wrong.
“When she got moved to ICU, there was a 30-minute wait until any family member could go see her,” her grandmother, Sandy Chapman, told reporters. “Upon entry, they saw that there was way too much blood.”
“She had to have four blood transfusions. She had two liters of blood pumped out of her lungs, not including what was in her stomach,” she continued. “There was an enormous amount of blood, and we kept asking, ‘Is this normal?’ Some nurses said, ‘I don’t know,’ and some said, ‘Yes.’ There was a lot of uncertainty and a lack of urgency.”
When McMath’s oxygen levels then began to fall dangerously low, Chapman called for help. The girl later went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead last Thursday. On Monday, doctors pronounced her legally dead and sought to take her off life support.
But McMath’s family would have nothing of it. They began praying and asking God for a miracle.
“I just feel my daughter is trapped inside of her body, just screaming to get out of there,” McMath’s mother, Latasha Winkfield, told reporters. “I won’t let them take her to the coroner’s office. I won’t.”
Winkfield hired attorney Christopher Dolan of San Francisco to help fight for the teen’s life, who issued a cease and desist letter to the hospital this week. The hospital then stopped enforcing its order to unhook McMath from the ventilator.
On Friday, during a court hearing about the matter, McMath’s family and Children’s Hospital and Research Center agreed to choose an independent neurologist to examine the teen and provide a second opinion about the matter.
However, during the hearing before Judge Evelio Grillo, attorney Doug Straus, who is representing the hospital, told the court that McMath had a negative reaction to the operation because it was more than a routine tonsillectomy.
“He said the surgery was complicated from the beginning, as three procedures were being done simultaneously,” KNTV reported. “The three surgeries, according to court documents, were: an adenotonsillectomy; a uvulopalatopharyngloplasty, or UPPP, which is tissue removal in the throat; and submucous resection of bilateral inferior turbinates, which is nasal obstruction.”
Straus asserted that the child was legally dead, but Dolan refuted his assessment, noting that “the child is warm.”
“She is soft to the touch. If you rub her foot, her foot curls in,” Dolan stated. “The mother has yelled in her ear, and the daughter has lifted up her arms.”
McMath’s family, which attends a Baptist church, has requested prayer from believers around the world. The girl’s mother likewise pleaded with Judge Grillo this week to spare her daughter in light of her belief that a miracle is still possible.
“She is alive. I believe in God and that He can heal all,” Winkfield wrote to Grillo. “God created Jahi. He can save her. Help me, please.”