December 30, 2013

Time running out for transfer of brain-dead Calif. tonsillectomy patient

A judge’s ruling allows Children’s Hospital Oakland to remove her from a life support at 5 p.m. Monday.

The Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — The family of a California girl declared brain dead after complications from tonsil surgery was running out of time Sunday to find a new facility to take her in and keep her on a ventilator.

A judge’s ruling will allow Children’s Hospital Oakland to remove 13-year-old Jahi McMath from life support at 5 p.m. Monday unless her family appeals.

The family is now pinning its hopes on a New York facility after two California care homes withdrew offers to accept the teen.

Chris Dolan, the family’s attorney, said he was waiting to hear from the New York hospital after its facility director and medical director speak. He wouldn’t provide the hospital’s name, saying the media attention could hurt Jahi’s chance of being transferred there.

On Sunday, the hospital said it had not heard from the New York, or any other, facility about a transfer.

“We need to be able to talk to the other facility to understand what it is they are capable of doing,” Cynthia Chiarappa, a hospital spokeswoman, said Sunday.

“This is not transferring an individual in a vegetative state, but a dead body.”

The teen underwent a tonsillectomy at the hospital on Dec. 9 to treat sleep apnea.

After she awoke from the operation, her family said, she started bleeding heavily from her mouth and went into cardiac arrest.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital and an independent pediatric neurologist from Stanford University have concluded the girl is brain dead.

The hospital wants to remove her from life support, but the family said they believe she is still alive.

Another hospital spokesman, Sam Singer, said Sunday in an interview with KRON-TV that Children’s Hospital will facilitate a transfer if the family finds an outside physician to insert the breathing and feeding tubes needed to make it happen.

“At a certain point, they have to be able to look themselves in the eye and realize that this young lady is dead and is not coming back under any circumstances,” Singer said.

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