The family of a young girl from Oakland, California is encountering difficulty in trying to transfer her to a long-term care location. 13-year-old Jahi McMath was declared brain dead after complications arose from a tonsil surgery at Children’s Hospital Oakland; the hospital considers her to be dead, but has kept her lungs active with a ventilator after being ordered to do so by a court. Children’s Hospital has not, however, connected a feeding tube and, pending an extension of the court order, will disconnect Jahi from the ventilator after January 7th.
“Performing medical procedures on the body of a deceased human being is simply not something Children's Hospital can do or ask its staff to assist in doing,” said Douglas Straus, a lawyer representing the hospital, in a letter written to the family.
The statement comes after Children’s Hospital had originally stated it would allow an outside doctor to connect feeding and breathing tubes requested by the family if the McMaths could procure one to do so. Now it is unclear whether the procedures necessary to stabilize Jahi before being moved to another location will be permitted by the hospital, regardless of whether its staff would have any part in the process.
This new stance was given to a lawyer representing Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield, when he tried to verify the conditions under which an outside doctor could treat Jahi and the hospital would allow her to be moved.
“They're speaking out of both sides of their mouths. They say one thing and we go down that road, and then they say something else,” said Christopher Dolan, Winkfield’s lawyer.
Further muddling the hospital’s stance on Jahi’s future, a spokesman would later call the argument “academic,” stating that the family had yet to find a doctor to undertake the procedure. Another lawyer noted that the hospital would only release Jahi after the family offered a detailed plan on who would perform the necessary procedures and how her body would be transferred to a capable facility, and after written permission was obtained from the coroner.
New Beginnings Community Center in Medford has offered to care for Jahi, but the issue of connecting the needed feeding and breathing tubes, as well as transferring her from California to Long Island has yet to be solved. The family has, however, made strides toward finding care for Jahi; a Go Fund Me campaign to pay for medical expenses has already doubled its goal.
[Source: USA Today]
Picture via Go Fund Me.