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2nd opinion set for girl left brain-dead after tonsillectomy

A court order keeping an Oakland girl on life support after a routine tonsillectomy left her brain-dead expires Monday as a family-approved doctor is scheduled to examine her for a second opinion.

Family members of 13-year-old Jahi McMath are slated to march in front of Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland on Monday as they call for an investigation into how the girl deteriorated so dramatically after a routine surgery to have her tonsils removed.

On Sunday, a group of faith leaders sent a letter to the Alameda County district attorney's office requesting a formal investigation into what happened to Jahi, NBC Bay Area reported.

Soon after her tonsillectomy on Dec. 9, Jahi went into cardiac arrest and the flow of oxygen to her brain was cut off. The next day, a CT scan showed two-thirds of the girl's brain had swollen. Doctors declared her brain-dead and planned to take her off life support days later until an attorney intervened on behalf of the family.

A judge last week ordered the hospital to keep Jahi on a ventilator until a neurologist chosen by the family could further examine her and deliver a second opinion at a future court hearing.

"I don't want to have my Christmas every year remind me of her being taken off a ventilator," Nailah Winkfield, Jahi's mother, told KNTV-TV in San Jose.

Church members have been keeping a vigil with family members outside the hospital for days, praying for a miracle.

"It makes me feel better because they believe as I do that God has the final say in what happens to my daughter," Winkfield told NBC. "And the doctors don’t know everything because if they did, my daughter wouldn’t be brain-dead right now."

The family has also publicly accused hospital staff of being callous in pushing to take Jahi off life support.

Representatives for the hospital have denied that characterization, saying that doctors only made it clear to Jahi's family that in their opinion, she is dead.

“As medical professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that we don’t create hope where there is none," the hospital's chief of pediatrics, Dr. David Durand, said in a statement to the media Sunday. "When one’s brain ceases to function, it never restarts."

Hospital administrators have also called on the family to allow them to discuss Jahi's case to "correct misperceptions" created in public.

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jason.wells@latimes.com

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