OAKLAND, Calif. — The family of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who died in 2005 after making national headlines in the battle to keep her on life support, is assisting the parents of a teenage girl who was recently declared brain dead following a tonsillectomy and other throat and nasal procedures.
The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network announced this past week that it has been working behind the scenes to help secure transfer of the girl to a nursing facility, along with several other advocacy organizations.
“Families and individuals must make themselves aware of what so-called ‘brain death’ is and what it is not,” said Bobby Schindler, executive director of the organization and brother of Terri Schiavo. “Additionally, families and individuals must educate themselves regarding their rights as patients, the advance documentation that must be completed prior to any medical procedure as well as how to ensure best any patient’s rights.”
Schindler also appeared on Huckabee on Saturday to discuss his thoughts about the situation.
As previously reported, the matter centers around 13-year-old Jahi McMath, who underwent an operation at Children’s Hospital and Research Center last 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.
McMath’s family has been fighting the matter in court ever since. On Friday, Natasha Winkfield, McMath’s mother, reached an agreement with Children’s Hospital and Research Center, which has allowed the girl to be transferred out of the hospital. However, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Emilio Grillo denied the family’s request to force the hospital to insert McMath’s breathing and feeding tube—a procedure that is required for the transferal.
Winkfield says that she continues to hold out hope for her daughter.
“I will always fight for Jahi until she is ready to go, her own self. I can’t play God,” she told reporters this week. “She’s going to get better or she’s not, but I see her getting better.”