OAKLAND, Calif. — A California judge overseeing the case of a teenage girl who was declared brain dead following a tonsillectomy and other throat and nasal procedures has allowed the hospital to remove the girl’s life support pending appeal.
As previously reported, 13-year-old Jahi McMath underwent the operation at Children’s Hospital and Research Center earlier this month, 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.
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. Days later, doctors pronounced her legally dead and sought to take her off life support.
However, the family has been fighting the matter in court, and last week, Judge Evelio Grillo ordered that the girl remain connected to a ventilator while a second opinion is obtained. On Monday, Dr. Paul Graham Fisher conducted an evaluation and testified before the court on Tuesday that McMath meets the medical criteria for brain death.
The family has asked for a third opinion by Dr. Paul Byrne, the co-editor of the book Beyond Brain Death. He told CBS News this week that while he has not seen the girl’s medical records, he believes that there is a possibility that she may still be alive.
“The ventilator won’t work on a corpse,” he said. “In a corpse, the ventilator pushes the air in, but it won’t come out. Just the living person pushes the air out.”
But following Fisher’s testimony on Tuesday, Judge Grillo permitted Children’s Hospital and Research Center to remove the ventilator after Monday, December 30th, pending an appeal from McMath’s family. Options are now being discussed as the girl’s family continues to pray for a miracle.
According to Mercury News, there has been an enormous outpouring of support for McMath and her family since the ordeal, as the lobby is often filled with those bringing flowers and cards, or pastors offering prayers and Scripture, as well as those who seek to lay hands on and anoint the teen with oil.
A march was held earlier this week outside of the hospital, and a prayer gathering took place last Wednesday at the family’s church.