2nd opinion ordered for teen declared brain dead

An Oakland judge ruled late Monday to keep 13-year-old Jahi McMath on a ventilator and have another doctor test her.
December 23, 2013 8:53:03 PM PST
A teenage girl will stay on life support through Christmas at Children's Hospital Oakland. There was a rally and march held on Monday to continue the fight.

Late on Monday, a judge issued a ruling to keep 13-year-old Jahi McMath on a ventilator until Dec. 30. Jahi was declared brain dead 11 days ago after she suffered cardiac arrest after a tonsillectomy.

Also on Monday an Oakland court appointed an independent doctor to examine the extent of her brain damage. Dr. Paul Graham Fisher is chief of child neurology and director of the Center for Brain and Behavior at Stanford.

Graham Fisher evaluated Jahi's condition all afternoon at Children's Hospital at the request of a judge. That same judge said Jahi can stay of life support for another week.

"This is the paper that stood between her and having the life support being pulled," said Christopher Dolan, Jahi's family attorney.

The lawyer for the family of Jahi showed off a court order, which will keep the teen on life-support for another week.

"Without this, they could've pulled that plug so this piece of paper keeps her on a ventilator and keeps her alive until at least the 30th. And that gives the family time to try to find alternate arrangements and it gives time for Jahi to come back to life," said Dolan.

"This gives us the opportunity to spend Christmas with Jahi here at the hospital and possibly bring in the New Year with her as well," said Omari Sealey, Jahi's uncle.

Her family wants Jahi moved to an extended care facility. Jahi's mother and stepfather were back in court Monday where an Oakland judge ordered an independent medical evaluation be done, naming Graham Fisher to determine if Jahi's brain shows activity. "We are looking forward to the review by Dr. Paul Fisher," said Children's Hospital Pediatrics Chief Dr. David Durand.

Children's Hospital says it welcomes the second opinion, but maintains Jahi is brain dead.

"We are very sorry about the complications which led to the death of Jahi. We feel a great deal of sympathy for the family as they work through this tragic time," said Durand.

But attorneys for the family want a third opinion by Ohio neurologist Dr. Paul Byrne. He's an outspoken critic of removing patients from life support and publicly opposed Dr. Jack Kevorkian's use of assisted suicide.

Supporters of Jahi marched around Children's Hospital where she came two weeks ago to have her tonsils removed, but there were complications after surgery. Her mother thanks everyone who is praying for Jahi.

"It's just really hard for me right now. Especially right around now. I should be spending time getting ready to get her gifts together, wrapping them and actually hiding them from her," said Nailha Winkfield, Jahi's mother.

Both sides in this difficult legal matter will be back in court Christmas Eve, when some results from Monday's independent medical examination could be presented to the judge.


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