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Family of brain-dead Jahi McMath has 'real concerns' about safety

The family of Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old girl declared brain dead at an Oakland hospital last month due to complications suffered after surgery, will not disclose where she was transferred due to "real concerns" about her safety.

Jahi's body was released Sunday by the hospital to the Alameda County coroner’s office, which in turn released the body to her mother “as per court order,” hospital officials said.

At a news conference Sunday, the family's attorney, Christopher Dolan, said hundreds of threatening emails have been received during the public drama that played out for weeks in court and on the steps of Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland, which had been ordered by a judge to keep the girl on a ventilator.

PHOTOS: The Jahi McMath case

Dolan said people have told him he was unethical for representing the family, should be killed and that “somebody should just come down there and pull that plug.”

Due to the threats, Dolan said he and the family did not want her location known because “the family has real concerns” about her safety.

Jahi suffered heavy bleeding, cardiac arrest and "whole brain death" -- defined as an irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem -- on Dec. 12, three days after complex tonsillectomy surgery.

Two hospital physicians and three outside doctors requested by the family deemed her brain-dead, court records show.

Dolan said the family’s fight to keep her on a ventilator “is not a political campaign,” despite the criticism they have received.

“This was a person. This is a person. This is a family,” he said. “If it is unethical to give someone hope, then what are we going to do? Shut down the churches, the schools?”

The Alameda County coroner’s office issued a death certificate Friday, listing Dec. 12 as Jahi’s date of death, although an official cause was not listed pending an autopsy.

Hospital officials said they could not comment on the state of Jahi’s body when it was released.

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hailey.branson@latimes.com

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