Family of Brain-Dead Teen Might Opt to Take Her Off Life Support

PHOTO: Jahi McMath remains on life support at Childrens Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead.
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After fighting for weeks to a keep a 13-year-old girl who has been declared brain dead on life support, the family of Jahi McMath might take her off the machines that have been keeping her alive.

Jahi's uncle Omar Sealey told ABCNews.com that the family would meet Thursday to discuss removing her from life support. "We wanted to talk today. We didn't want to discuss anything on Christmas," he said.

Jahi was declared brain dead after surgery to remove her tonsils led to complications and cardiac arrest, according to ABC's affiliate station KGO in San Francisco.

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Her family has fought to keep her on life support even though doctors at Children's Hospital Oakland said she had no chance of recovery and wanted to remove Jahi from the machines.

On Tuesday Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that Children's Hospital Oakland did not have to keep Jahi tethered to life support, and that she was brain dead under accepted medical standards.

But the hospital cannot remove her from life support before Dec. 30 at 5 p.m. to allow Jahi's family the opportunity to appeal the ruling or make other arraignments.

"I'm sorry for your loss, and if I could fix it I would, but I can't," Grillo said in the courtroom.

Grillo made his ruling after an independent neurologist not affiliated with Children's Hospital Oakland found that Jahi showed no signs of brain activity and should be declared brain dead.

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On the day after Grillo's ruling, Jahi's family celebrated Christmas with the teenager in her hospital room.

According to her uncle, there was even a Christmas tree and presents.

"With the decision it's heartbreaking to hear that of course, but our faith is still strong," Sealey told reporters after Grillo's ruling. "It's Christmas Eve. There's still time for a miracle."

Dr. David Durand, chief of pediatrics at Children's Hospital Oakland, released a statement on Monday that touched on the hospital's reasons for wanting to remove Jahi from the ventilator.

"We have the deepest sympathy for Jahi's mother who wishes her daughter was alive," wrote Durand. "But the ventilator cannot reverse the brain death that has occurred, and it would be wrong to give false hope that Jahi will ever come back to life."

Doug Strauss, the attorney for Children's Hospital Oakland, said the hospital would not oppose the family moving Jahi to another facility.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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