OAKLAND, Calif. — The family of a girl who was declared brain dead after complications from a tonsillectomy wants to transfer her to a nursing home that is willing to keep caring for her even though doctors have said she is beyond recovery, a lawyer said Thursday.
Before the nursing home can accept the 13-year-old as a patient, however, doctors at Children’s Hospital Oakland need to surgically insert breathing and feeding tubes into Jahi McMath that would allow the new facility to keep her body functioning, the lawyer, Christopher Dolan, said.
David Durand, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, said the hospital would not cooperate with McMath’s transfer to another facility.
He cited a ruling from Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo, who found that the girl was brain-dead but ordered that the hospital keep her on a ventilator through Monday evening.
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“Judge Grillo was very clear,” Durand said in a statement late Thursday. “He ruled Jahi McMath to be deceased and instructed the hospital to maintain the status quo.”
The judge did not authorize or order any transfer or surgery, he said, adding: “Children’s Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice.”
Dolan declined to identify the facility where the family would like McMath to go, but he said it is in the San Francisco Bay Area and is not equipped to perform surgeries. As McMath’s story has gained national attention, the family has received offers from care centers across the country and as far away at New York. Dolan said he was put in touch with the Bay Area facility by a group of Roman Catholic doctors.
“Our position is, ‘You don’t want her, that’s clear.’ … We are trying to find somebody who … will treat her, help us get her out of there and into the arms of someone who will care for her rather than putting her in a body bag,” said Dolan, who is representing McMath’s mother.
Children’s Hospital has moved to take McMath off life support, an action her family went to court to stop. A doctor at Children’s Hospital and a court-appointed outside expert both concluded that she cannot recover because her brain is not functioning.
Grillo gave the hospital permission to remove the girl’s ventilator, but not until 5 p.m. Monday, so that the mother has time to appeal.
If the family is unable to immediately move McMath, Dolan said it will appeal Grillo’s ruling.
McMath’s uncle, Omari Sealey, said at a news conference that the family spent Christmas with her, praying together for a miracle.
“It looks like we may have found a miracle to keep Jahi alive,” Sealey said, “and to give her another fighting chance to wake up.”
McMath had tonsil surgery at Children’s Hospital this month to treat sleep apnea. After she awoke from the operation, her family said, she started bleeding heavily from her mouth and went into cardiac arrest.
Dolan said the surgical procedure and McMath’s long-term care would be paid for by private medical insurance.
Hospital officials have not discussed specifics of the case in public, citing the family’s right to privacy.