Judge Rules Jahi McMath Can Be Taken Off Life Support
By Paul Elias
A judge ruled that a 13-year-old Northern California girl declared brain dead after suffering complications following a tonsillectomy can be taken off life support.
But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo gave Jahi McMath’s family until 5 p.m. Dec. 30 to file an appeal. She will stay on life support until then.
Relatives said the family has not decided if they would keep fighting.
“It’s Christmas Eve, there is still time for a miracle,” said Omari Sealey, the girl’s uncle. He said the family would discuss and decide later whether to appeal or to allow Children’s Hospital of Oakland to remove the girl from a ventilator.
“Prayers are more important than ever before,” Sealey said. “Because the clock is ticking.”
Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, didn’t attend the court hearing, remaining with her daughter in the hospital where she will spend Christmas Eve.
Sealey said Winkfield and other family members have remained with the teen since complications arose Dec. 9 after a tonsillectomy.
“Room 325 of Children’s Hospital is our new home,” Sealey said.
Sealey held hands with Jahi’s grandmother Sandra Chatman, Jahi’s stepfather Martin Winkfield and the family’s lawyer Christopher Dolan as the judge ruled.
Grillo based his decision on the conclusions of two doctors, court-appointed Dr. Paul Fisher of Stanford University and the hospital’s Dr. Robin Shanahan.
Fisher examined the girl for several hours and reported to the judge that the teen was brain dead, the same conclusion Shanahan reached.
Grillo said he had no other choice but to allow the hospital to remove the ventilator.
“I wish I could fix it, but I can’t,” he said.
The hospital had argued that the teen had no chance of recovery since all brain function had ceased.
“Our sincere hope is that the family finds peace and can come to grips with the judge’s decision,” hospital attorney Doug Strauss said outside court after Grillo’s ruling.
Jahi’s family has been battling with hospital administrators over keeping her on a ventilator since the teen suffered cardiac arrest after bleeding profusely following her operation.
The family said that as long as the teen was breathing, there was hope of recovery. The family also demanded an independent examination. They have said they believe Jahi is still alive and that the hospital should not remove her from the ventilator without its permission.