Family of ‘Brain Dead’ Teen Finds Nursing Home Willing to Care for Girl Long-Term

JahiOAKLAND, 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.”

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“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.

Jahi McMath and her mother Latasha
Jahi McMath and her mother Latasha

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.

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  • Karate Kathleen

    I will say again: In ALL my years of nursing I HAVE NEVER heard of ANY hospital pushing so hard for someone to be taken off life support, including those patients I have known who are deemed “brain dead.” In all the cases I professionally know of the hospital figured the insurance will pay the bill, and they let the family decide in their time. I have NEVER, EVER hear a hospital say, ” because the patient is brain dead we do not feel obligated to provide care.”

    NO. I SMELL A RAT HERE AND THE STENCH IS FOUL!! I also have never heard of a patient going to the hospital for a routine tonsillectomy and after surgery having sooo much bleeding their lungs fill up with blood that has to be removed, they then have 4 blood transfusions, and end up brain dead! I very strongly suspect during surgery someone made a terrible mistake, the hospital knows about it and are afraid of the truth coming out & the family filing a huge lawsuit against the hospital, so they are pushing for this child to be taken off life support & buried to their problem solved!

    Granted these are nothing more than my suspicions, but I have been a nurse since 1991 and I know how these situations usually play out and I am telling you all out there that THE BEHAVIOR OF THE HOSPITAL IS NOT NORMAL. All their behavior demonstrates to me they are pushing to remove life support and refuse to do the surgery needed so she can go to the nursing home TO PROTECT THEIR YOU KNOW WHAT! IT’S CALLED CYA. I am not convinced one bit by their claiming some type of moral high ground saying they feel it isn’t morally right to put in breathing and stomache tubes because she’s technically dead. SINCE WHEN DOES A HOSPITAL FIGHT THE FAMILY ON AN ISSUE LIKE THIS IF THERE IS SOMEONE TO PAY THE BILL?! I feel it in my bones, there has been wrongdoing here and this is an attempt at a cover-up.

    If this child ends up taken off life support against the family’s wishes THE FAMILY SHOULD DEMAND AN AUTOPSY BE DONE BY THE COUNTY CORONER ASAP!!! May God uncover the guilty and hold them accountable! The way this hospital is acting is deplorable. My impression is they don’t care at all about the child or family, all they are looking out for is themselves.

    Did y’all notice how the hospital spokesperson coldly referred to Jahi as “the body” and “the body of this individual”? That’s an other red flag my friends! And all the red flags are adding up! Boy do I want these people caught!

    • Lynne

      I believe it’s clear they have a legal suit for malpractice, but my concern is that after the move…if she is still declared brain dead by outside objective experts…why is it a miracle to keep a child on artificial life support whom is brain dead? I hope they are right & they discover…that she is NOT brain dead. However, if she is…it seems so very wrong to keep a dead persons body pumping artificially…if she is irreversibly brain dead…its time to have a funeral & let her be with God.

  • Karate Kathleen

    OK, my mistake. Hospital said it wasn’t an “appropriate medical practice’ not “morally” wrong. sorry about that. I’m a little hot under the collar right now. But still, since when does a hospital who has nothing to hide refuse to put a breathing tube & feeding tube into someone declared brain dead because it not “appropriate medical procedure”? IT HAPPENS IN PEOPLE WITH TRAMATIC BRAIN INJURIES ALL THE TIME! The issue is decided by the patient’s family or power of attorney, and the hospital doesn’t care as long as there is someone to pay the bill!! I cannot believe the hospital thinks anyone out there is stupid enough to believe this! Their arrogance is unparalleled!!

    EVERYONE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS BECAUSE IF THE HOSPITAL GETS AWAY WITH THIS IT WILL SET A TERRIBLE PRECEDENT!! Think about it-if you were in a serious accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury or something and was declared brain dead- WOULD YOU WANT A HOSPITAL TO DECIDE ABOVE YOUR FAMILY OR POA WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU? That’s what we’re talking about here and if they can do it to this child and get away with it, it could happen to you!

    James, Sir Tainly, Mark- are you out there? Now’s the time to raise hell!

  • NeNe K

    I agree with Karate Kathleen, I too, think something went horribly wrong and the hospital is trying to cover it up. My heart goes out to the family and I pray that they demand an autopsy to find out what happened to their baby girl! I also pray that they can let her go instead of keeping her body alive even though her soul has left this world behind. I know it’s a hard thing to do…always hoping that she’ll wake up or praying that if they keep her body alive, that her body will mend, but if there is no brain activity, that is highly unlikely. Again, prayers and justice for the family.