Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

December 22, 2013

California girl to be kept on life support

Judge intervenes when hospital rules child is brain dead.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A 13-year-old California girl declared brain dead after complications from a tonsillectomy should be kept on life support for the time being, a judge has ruled.

The family of Jahi McMath says doctors at Children’s Hospital Oakland wanted to disconnect life support after Jahi was declared brain dead on Dec. 12.

Friday’s ruling by Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo came as both sides in the case agreed to get together and chose a neurologist to further examine Jahi and determine her condition. The judge scheduled a hearing Monday to appoint a physician.

The girl’s family sought the court order to keep Jahi on a ventilator. They left the courtroom without commenting.

After her daughter underwent a supposedly routine tonsillectomy and was moved to a recovery room, Nailah Winkfield began to fear something was going horribly wrong.

Jahi was sitting up in bed, her hospital gown bloody, and holding a pink cup full of blood.

“Is this normal?” Winkfield repeatedly asked nurses.

With her family and hospital staff trying to help and comfort her, Jahi kept bleeding profusely for the next few hours then went into cardiac arrest, her mother said.

Despite the family’s description of the surgery as routine, the hospital said in a memorandum presented to the court Friday that the procedure was a “complicated” one.

“Ms. McMath is dead and cannot be brought back to life,” the hospital said in the memo, adding: “Children’s is under no legal obligation to provide medical or other intervention for a deceased person.”

After the surgery Winkfield said her daughter appeared alert, was talking and even ate a Popsicle.

But about a half-hour later, shortly after the girl was taken to the intensive care unit, she began bleeding from her mouth and nose despite efforts by hospital staff and her family.

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