With a Jan. 7 deadline looming, the family of Jahi McMath is actively searching for a doctor willing to perform the medical procedures, installing breathing and feeding tubes, which the young girl needs so she can be transported to a new facility.
Alameda County Judge Evelio Grillo extended his original Dec. 30th deadline late Monday afternoon, and Children’s Hospital Spokesperson Sam Singer said the hospital would comply with the new court order.
Jahi was declared brain dead Dec. 12th, three days after undergoing tonsil surgery. Since then, the family has been in an uphill legal battle with Children’s hospital to keep her on a ventilator.
Children’s Hospital staff and other physicians, including an independent court-appointed doctor, have unanimously agreed that Jahi is legally dead.
“A family has lost their young daughter,” said Sam Singer, Children’s Hospital spokesperson. “But unfortunately, Jahi is deceased. No amount of hope, prayer or medical procedures will bring her back.”
However, Nailah Winkfield, Jahi’s mother, does not accept their verdict. She is adamant that with continued prayers, more time, and a different facility, Jahi could make a full recovery. The family reports to have video that show Jahi responding to her mother’s voice and her body moving, which they say indicate that the child is still alive.
But speaking for Children’s Hospital, Singer said the movements are example of “Lazarus signs,” a muscle reflex common in brain dead patients, “shocking” but represents “no sign of life.”’
Since last Friday, the family has been seeking a long-term care facilities where Jahi could be moved. Two facilities backed out, but she was accepted at one in Medford, New York, which specializes in traumatic brain injury.
Founder Allyson Scerri wrote an email to the family’s attorney Christopher Dolan, saying she was “aware of Jahi McMath’s dire situation, and we are willing to open our outpatient facility.”
The family is also in communication with a facility in Arizona that may be willing to admit the girl.
According to Singer, the hospital has yet to correspond with any facility about a possible transfer, but certain requirements must be met before she could be moved.
The family must have an outside physician implant breathing and feeding tubes in Jahi’s body – something Children’s Hospital has said it is unwilling to do on a dead person. In addition, a way to transport the girl must be determined.
Adding to the family’s difficulties, the hospital announced that it would not permit the surgical procedure to be performed at the hospital, according to Children’s Hospital attorney Douglass Straus, in a letter to the family.
Through an online site, the family exceeded goal of $20,000, raising over $43,000 dollars in a few days to assist with the costs of moving their daughter.
While the hospital the hospital maintains it is being supportive, family members are saying the hospital only wants to ensure the girl leaves in a body bag.
Community leaders have continued to voice their opinion of the ethical and moral actions of the hospital’s concerning the lack of sensitivity to Jahi’s family. Instead of using Jahi’s name, hospital representatives continuously refer to her as deceased or just a corpse.
“…to say prayer, or medicine, or anything else can’t help Jahi is a statement that does not reflect concern for Jahi’s mother or family,” said Rev. Dr. Harold R. Mayberry, senior pastor of First AME Church in Oakland, who has supported Jahi’s family and continues to encourage the community to do the same.
Rev. Mayberry says the community must hold Children’s hospital accountable, or the situation will repeat itself with someone else’s child.
Fighting back tears as she spoke to media Monday afternoon in front of Children’s Hospital, Winkfield said she is still prayerful and will continue to fight for her daughter.
“If it was their child, they would not want to pull the plug,” she said.