OAKLAND, Calif. — The family of a teenage girl who was declared brain dead following a tonsillectomy and other throat and nasal procedures has found a nursing home willing to care for the girl long-term, reports state.
Talks are being held as to how to carry out the logistics of the situation as there are many hurdles still to be overcome, including resistance from hospital officials. The matter will also need to be discussed in the courts beginning on Monday, where an attorney for the family plans on filing a federal lawsuit.
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.
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. The family—and others worldwide—have been praying for a miracle in the meantime.
“[It] looks like we may have gotten our miracle,” Sealey told CNN on Friday. “We found out that someone is willing to take Jahi away from Children’s Hospital to a facility nearby here in the Bay Area to treat her.”
Before the girl may be transferred to the facility, she needs to have a breathing and feeding tube inserted. However, Children’s Hospital and Research Center has refused to perform the procedure.
“Children’s Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice,” Chief of Pediatrics, David Durand, wrote in a statement on Thursday. “Children’s Hospital Oakland continues to extend its wishes for peace and closure to Jahi McMath’s family.”
But hospital spokesman Sam Singer said that officials are willing to cooperate if the family is able to “find a physician that would be willing to operate on the body.”
“If they want to move the body of this individual, we will do everything in our power, so as long as it’s legally and medically correct to help them,” he told reporters. “One is that they have a physician that will perform the surgery necessary to transfer the body. Secondarily, that the body be transferred and thirdly that there is a licensed, legitimate place that will take a deceased person on a ventilator.”
Attorney Timothy Dolan, who is representing McMath’s family, said that he held a three-way phone call with the nursing home and hospital to come to an understanding between the parties. He plans on seeking an extension of time in court on Monday, and also to file a federal lawsuit against the hospital.
“What this hospital is doing is telling this family, ‘We’re going to decide what’s going to happen to Jahi, not you,’ even if it kills her,” he told ABC News.