The family of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old Oakland girl on life support after being declared brain-dead due to complications from a tonsillectomy, wants to transfer the teenager to a different facility that they say is willing to continue her care, a family member told reporters Thursday night.
At a news conference, Jahi’s uncle, Omari Sealey, said doctors at Children’s Hospital Oakland would need to surgically insert breathing and feeding tubes into the eighth-grader before the facility can accept her. Sealey declined to name the facility, but said it was in the "Greater Bay Area."
"It looks like we may have found a miracle to keep Jahi alive and to give her another fighting chance to wake up," Sealey said.
Family members have been locked in a battle with Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland, which they accuse of being callous in pushing to take Jahi off a ventilator, despite their wishes to continue her life support.
The hospital released its own statement Thursday suggesting it would resist a transfer.
“Judge Grillo did not authorize or order any surgical procedures or transfer to another facility,” Chief of Pediatrics David Durand said in reference to a Dec. 24 ruling. “Children's Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice.”
A doctor at the hospital and a court-appointed expert both concluded that Jahi cannot recover because she is brain-dead. The court ruling stemming from those findings allows doctors at Children's Hospital Oakland to disconnect Jahi from a ventilator on Monday at 5 p.m.
Christopher Dolan, the family’s lawyer, told reporters that if the family was unable to immediately move Jahi they would appeal the ruling. He said the family's private health insurance would cover the cost of her long-term care.
“They told us there is a bed; they care for children like her all the time," Dolan said. "They believe they can provide her with care and support and treat her as if she's a living person."