Jahi McMath Declared Brain Dead, Family Still Fighting (UPDATED) Hospital Criticized for Insensitivity

The family of 13-yr-old Jahi McMath sat in a courtroom Tuesday morning listening to the testimony of an independent medical expert confirm that their daughter was brain dead.

Dr. Paul Fisher, Chief of Pediatric Neurology at Stanford Children’s Hospital and a known expert on brain death, was assigned by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo to conduct separate tests and report on the girl’s condition.

The family has been in an uphill legal battle with Children’s Hospital Oakland, fighting to keep the girl on life support.

She had begun bleeding profusely and went into cardiac arrest three days after a routi

 

ne tonsillectomy surgery on Dec. 9. Doctors later declared her brain dead.

Dr. David Durand, Chief of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, released a statement saying, “It would be wrong to give false hope that Jahi will ever come back to life.”

But Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, says she will not stop fighting for her daughter and still believes her daughter is alive.

“God has the final say, not the doctors,” she said. “The doctors think they know everything, but if they knew everything my daughter wouldn’t be brain dead.”

The hospital was involved in a similar conflict with a patient’s family in 2011, in the case of 1-yr-old Hiram Lawrence, shot in the head by a stray bullet and declared brain dead. The family complained about what they perceived as the hospital’s eagerness to take the infant off life support, even discussing organ donation with the family.

Rev. Dr. Harold R. Mayberry and other clergy members  addresses the press about complaints alleging Children's Hospital insensitive to the family of Jahi McMath.

Rev. Dr. Harold R. Mayberry (center), family of Jahi McMath, and Pastor Gerald Agee (right) addresses the press about complaints alleging Children’s Hospital of being insensitive to the family of Jahi McMath.

Rev. Dr. Harold Mayberry, senior pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church and Pastor Gerald Agee, senior pastor of Friendship Christian Center and president of the Pastors of Oakland, called a press conference last Sunday on behalf of Oakland’s clergy community to show their support for Jahi’s family.

Attorney John Burris and Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks also attended the press conference.

Mayberry said he was concerned about the lack of sympathy given to the family.

“Anytime a hospital administrator, whether he or she is a doctor or any physician in the hospital, says: ‘she’s dead, she’s dead, she’s dead and we want the courts to say ‘no, no, no’ – (that) represents a lack of sensitivity,” Mayberry said.

“At very best, perhaps the hospital should discipline that official, at very least, that official needs sensitivity training,” he added.

“…when you are wrong, you’re wrong,” Agee said. “You don’t need a judge to tell you you’re wrong. You need to do the right thing.”

Children’s hospital denies the statement was made, and says hospital representatives have been sympathetic to the family. Rev. Mayberry tried to hand a letter to Dr. Durand, urging the hospital to take a stand in regards to the reports of improper treatment.

However, was not allowed to deliver the letter, but an assistant met him downstairs and stated she would deliver the letter to him.

A large crowd marched last Monday in the streets near Children’s Hospital Oakland for Jahi with

March for Jahi on Dec. 23rd at Children's Hospital.

March for Jahi on Dec. 23rd at Children’s Hospital. Photo by Adam Turner.

signs reading, “We love you” and “Doctors can be wrong.” Winkfield said she is thankful for the support of those rallying behind Jahi – many of them people she has never met before.

“It makes me feel better because they believe just as well as I do that God has the final say on my daughter,” Winkfield said.

Later on Monday, the Alameda County Superior Court judge extended the temporary restraining order to Dec. 30, which allowed for Dr. Fisher to conduct tests and give his report Tuesday morning.

Judge Grillo ruled against the family, no longer requiring the hospital to continue additional medical care to Jahi, but the ventilator will stay hooked up until 5 p.m. on Dec. 30. He offered words of sympathy to Winkfield, encouraging her to find comfort in her religion and in the love from her family.

The family did not say what their next move would be following the judge’s ruling but they spent Christmas by her bedside, praying for a miracle.

Thursday night the family announced that a long term care facility was willing to take Jahi but a feeding and breathing tube needs to be implemented for safe transport. Children’s Hospital is unwilling to complete the procedure because the girl has been declared brain dead and therefore legally deceased.

Children’s Hospital spokesperson has also noted that Judge Grillo’s ruling only permits the hospital to keep her on a ventilator until 5pm on December 30th.

The family attorney Christopher Dolan is expected to file for another restraining order Monday morning to give the family more time to transport Jahi to a longterm care facility.

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One Comment

  1. j.prindo

    This poor girl needs a funeral home or a taxidermist, not some crazy lawyer or priest from some cult.
    The hospital did absolutely nothing wrong, then or now, and has tried to appease this family and now it looks like the whole community wants to get involved. Well here, think about this!
    When this girl came back from surgery, she was NOT BLEEDING NOR WAS SHE IN DISTRESS. The staff told her and the family that she could not talk for fear of tearing the new and fragile throat stitches. BUT, she and the family would not listen and she was seen talking, laughing and trying to sing!! They were told several times to stop that this behavior was extremely dangerous, but they continued. At some point, the young girl was FED a hamburger brought in by the family,even after they were told by hospital staff, doctors and nurses to give her absolutely NOTHING that was solid, because this would tear out the stitches. What happens next is truly tragic and completely unavoidable. The young girl starts choking and has difficulty breathing. Instead of calling the nurse station, the family says NOTHING as she starts to bleed out her mouth and struggles to breathe. At this point, the nurse station still has not been called and blood is flowing even more. Now, someone in the family with medical knowledge decides that they will suction out this child’s throat and who knows what was ripped open. Now too much blood is pouring out, it will not stop and the family calls for help. Too late to really do anything. The rest everyone knows. How tragic and how completely unavoidable. So is this exactly how it happened? We will know the answer to that far down the road during the coming legal action. But everyone blaming the doctors and staff need to possibly rethink their position. And this circus needs to end, this poor girl is dead and nothing is going to change that. Let it be done already, nothing more to do.

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