More than three weeks ago, 13-year-old Jahai McMath of Oakland was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery.
Now her mother, Nailah Winkfield, reportedly will be able to remove Jahi from Children’s Hospital, assuming full responsibility for Jahi, according to an agreement between attorneys for the family and Children’s Hospital Oakland.
At a hearing in Alameda County Superior Court, Children’s Hospital attorney Douglas Straus said the two sides have reached a stipulation for the “possible removal” of McMath to another facility.
The Alameda County coroner must sign a document accepting Jahi’s body. The coroner’s office issued a death certificate this morning. The date and time of death and the cause of death are unspecified, pending an autopsy, but the death certificate is nonetheless official.
Christopher Dolan, the attorney for Jahi’s family, asked Judge Evelio Grillo to order Children’s Hospital to insert a gastric feeding tube to provide nutrition and a tracheostomy tube to oxygenate her body while she’s transferred to another facility.
Grillo denied that request, saying that inserting the tubes is “a medical determination that has to be made by physicians.” The judge also would not force the Children’s Hospital to allow an outside doctor to perform those procedures.
Jahi’s family has until 5 p.m. Tuesday to take full responsibility for the body. Sam Singer, the hospital’s spokesperson, says the family cannot simply take the body home, it needs to go to a medical facility.
The family says that a facility in Medford, N.Y. is willing to take Jahi.
Comparison to Terri Schiavo Case
David Magnus, professor of pediatrics and director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, says that this case is very different from the widely publicized Terri Schaivo case. Schiavo had a poor prognosis, but was in a vegetative state and still alive for 15 years until life support was terminated.
“In this case, if the patient is in fact brain dead, then sadly the tragedy has already happened. The patient is gone and a lot of the talk that people have about her being on life support and being kept alive is very misleading,” Magnus said. “This patient passed away quite awhile ago.”
A federal judge in Oakland is scheduled hold a separate hearing on Jahi’s situation later Friday morning and there also is scheduled to be a hearing in an appellate court in San Francisco on Friday afternoon.
Bay City News, Jon Brooks, Don Clyde, Mina Kim, Lisa Pickoff-White and Grace Rubenstein contributed to this report.