Family Wants Brain-Dead Girl Moved to Nursing Home Before Hospital Pulls Plug

PHOTO: Jahi McMath remains on life support at Childrens Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead.
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The family of a brain-dead girl is fighting again with an Oakland hospital, this time to move 13-year-old Jahi McMath to a medical facility for long-term care on life support.

Jahi must have a tracheotomy and an implanted feeding tube before she can be moved to the undisclosed facility, according to her family.

But officials at Children's Hospital Oakland, where Jahi has been treated since complications from a Dec. 9 tonsillectomy left her brain dead, have refused to perform a procedure that they say is not "appropriate medical practice" on the "body of a deceased person."

The family is also working with a deadline in mind after an Oakland judge ruled Tuesday that Children's Hospital Oakland could remove Jahi from live support after Dec. 30 at 5 p.m.

With the deadline looming, Jahi's family said they will go to court to have the tracheotomy performed, if needed. Her uncle, Omari Sealey, questioned the hospital's refusal to perform the procedures.

"You don't want her, that's fine," Sealey told reporters Thursday. "We have a place that does want her, that wants to keep her alive. So help us get her out of your hospital so we can take her somewhere else where someone wants to help us keep her alive."

The family says its insurance company is willing to pay for it, according to ABC News affiliate station KGO-TV in San Francisco.

The hospital released a statement late Thursday night reiterating that the judge had found Jahi to be brain dead.

"Children's Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice," the statement read.

Jahi was declared brain dead after surgery to remove her tonsils led to complications and cardiac arrest, according to KGO.

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Her family 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.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ruled Tuesday 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.

The deadline of Dec. 30 was imposed so that Jahi's family had an 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.

There was even a Christmas tree and presents, her uncle said.

"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 Monday describing 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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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