Update, Feb. 20, 2014: Jahi McMath ‘Doing Much Better Physically,’ Mom Says
The family of Jahi McMath isn’t disclosing where the brain-dead 13-year-old has been transferred, saying only that she was transported via ground after she was removed from Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland on Sunday and that she’s at a facility that shares their belief that Jahi is still alive.
In legal filings last month, the attorney for the family said it had heard from two facilities willing to accept Jahi — an unnamed one in Arizona and one on Long Island, east of New York City. Attorney Christopher Dolan’s filing included a $32,000 estimate for an air ambulance that would take the girl to the New Beginnings Community Center for Brain Injury Rehabilitation in Medford, N.Y.
Jahi’s uncle, Omari Sealey, joined Dolan in a press conference in San Francisco Monday to discuss the transfer. From an Associated Press account:
[Sealey] told reporters Monday that Jahi traveled by ground and that there were no complications in the transfer, suggesting she may still be in California. Nurses and doctors are working to stabilize her with intravenous antibiotics, minerals and supplements while she remains on the ventilator, but her condition is too precarious for additional measures, lawyer Christopher Dolan said.
The new facility has “been very welcoming with open arms. They have beliefs just like ours,” Sealey said. “They believe as we do … It’s a place where she is going to get the treatment she deserves.”
The nearly $50,000 in private donations the family has raised since taking the case public helped cover the carefully choreographed handoff to the critical care team and transportation to the new location, Sealey said. The facility, where Jahi is expected to remain for some time, is run by a charitable organization that so far hasn’t sought payment, Dolan said.
Both men refused to name the facility or reveal where it was located, saying they wanted to prevent staff members and the families of other patients from being harassed.
Dolan also addressed Jahi’s physical condition. According to the San Jose Mercury News:
“Right now, we don’t know if she’s going to make it,” said Dolan.
“She’s in very bad shape,” he said. “What I can tell you is that those examinations show that her medical condition, separate from the brain issue, is not good.”
Dolan’s frank and sober assessment echoes a Friday legal declaration by Children’s Hospital Oakland critical care pediatrician Dr. Heidi R. Flori, who opposed surgical insertion of a feeding tube because the girl’s body was deteriorating.
Brain-dead for 25 days, Jahi has been sustained under court order with a breathing machine and other medical interventions since complications arose after surgery to remove her tonsils and other tissue.
Until Monday, she had gone without nourishment because the hospital had diagnosed her as legally and medically dead. Dolan said Monday that Jahi is now receiving potassium, minerals and hormones through an IV, in addition to antibiotics.
Original post on Jahi McMath’s removal from Oakland Children’s Hospital, from the Associated Press:
By Terry Collins
The family of Jahi McMath has had the brain-dead 13-year-old taken from Children’s Hospital in Oakland to an undisclosed location. The girl was moved by a critical care team about 8 p.m. Sunday while attached to a ventilator but without a feeding tube, family attorney Christopher Dolan said.
“It was a very tense situation,” said Dolan. “Everybody played by the rules.”
David Durand, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, said the girl was released to the coroner. The coroner then released her into the custody of her mother, Nailah Winkfield, as per court order, Durand said in an email.
On Friday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo said Jahi could be transferred under an agreement with Children’s Hospital and the girl’s mother will be held accountable for developments that could include Jahi going into cardiac arrest.
The Alameda County coroner’s office issued a death certificate for the girl Friday but said the document is incomplete because no cause of death has been determined pending an autopsy.
“They may have issued one but we don’t have it. We don’t think she’s dead,” Dolan said. “We got all the necessary legal paperwork in order to get Jahi out of there.” He said the deal to move the girl came together Sunday.
A court injunction prohibiting Children’s Hospital from removing the ventilator that has kept Jahi’s heart pumping since her Dec. 9 surgery expires at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Dolan wouldn’t specify where the girl was taken but he said “they are going to care for her, respect her and love her. And they’re going to call her Jahi, not ‘the body.””
He told reporters at his office in San Francisco late Sunday that the girl will be getting a feeding tube before she is transferred to a permanent facility.
Dolan asked for privacy for the caregivers because the issue has raised such strong emotions.
“It’s brought out the best in people and the worst in people,” he said. “We’ve had people make threats from around the country. It’s sad people act that way, so for Jahi’s safety and for those around her, we will not be saying where she went or where she is.”
The girl’s uncle, Omari Seeley, told reporters that “we’re very grateful. We’re very proud. We want to thank everyone who supported us, everyone who stood in our corner, everyone who prayed for us, everyone who donated to make this possible. Without you guys, none of this would be possible.”
After spending weeks in a very public and tense fight with the hospital, Jahi’s family does not plan to disclose any more about their plans for her continued care until she is resettled, her uncle, Sealey said Friday.
Jahi went into cardiac arrest while recovering from surgery to remove her tonsils, adenoids and uvula along with bony structures from her nose and throat and palate tissue. Three doctors have declared the girl brain dead based on exams and tests showing no blood flow or electrical activity in either her cerebrum or the brain stem that controls breathing.
Multiple outside doctors and bioethicists observing the case have confirmed that a patient in that condition meets the legal criteria for death and has no chance of recovering.
The hospital that has sought to remove the girl from a ventilator refused to fit her with a feeding tube or a breathing tube that would help stabilize her during a move, saying it was unethical to perform medical procedures on a dead person.
Winkfield, refusing to believe her daughter is dead as long as her heart is beating, has gone to court to stop the machine from being disconnected. She has wanted to transfer Jahi to another facility and hoped to force Children’s Hospital either to insert the tubes or to allow an outside doctor to do the procedures.
Grillo on Friday rejected the family’s move to have the hospital insert the tubes, noting the girl could be moved with the ventilator and intravenous fluid lines she has now. He also refused to compel the hospital to permit an outside doctor to perform the procedures on its premises.
Dolan said Friday the family had located an unaffiliated physician to put in the tubes and that an outpatient clinic in New York that treats people with traumatic brain injures has expressed willingness to care for Jahi.
Hospital spokesman Sam Singer said officials were not informed where the girl was being taken.
“We hope that the family finds peace in this very, very tragic story,” he said.