Family of Jahi McMath sues doctor, Oakland hospital over brain damage


The family of Jahi McMath, a teen declared brain dead after a surgery for sleep apnea in 2013, says she lost three pints of blood and was deprived of oxygen before her heart stopped.

Her family is now suing UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland and Frederick Rosen, a surgeon, for a series of medical procedures that they say have significantly deteriorated her quality of life, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court. She is under care at an undisclosed East Coast location.

The family is seeking unspecified damages as a result of alleged medical negligence and the emotional distress they suffered.


UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said, “Our hearts go out to the McMath family.”

Jahi’s family insists surgeons agree she does not meet the definition of brain death. But hospital staff declared Jahi brain dead after tests showed “no cerebral activity.” A death certificate was also issued.

Jahi was 13 when Rosen performed a tonsillectomy on Dec. 9, 2013, to treat her sleep apnea.

After the surgery, Jahi’s parents were alarmed when she coughed up blood.

The girl bled for hours and her health began deteriorating. As her heart rate dropped, doctors rushed into her hospital room.

One doctor uttered an expletive and said “Her heart stopped,” according to the lawsuit. For 30 minutes, medical staff worked to get her heart beating again.

They eventually pumped two liters of blood from her lungs.

According to the lawsuit, a nurse wrote in Jahi’s medical chart that she had repeatedly asked doctors about the girl’s condition and blood loss but was informed there would be “no immediate intervention.”


Tests later showed Jahi suffered severe brain damage.

Her family says doctors hadn’t told them that they had placed Jahi on an organ donor list and planned to terminate her life support.

“Nobody with the hospital administration explained what happened,” they said in the lawsuit.

In their lawsuit, they say a physician at the hospital slammed his fists on a table and said, “What is it you don’t understand? She is dead, dead, dead, dead.”

The family says they were given distinctive hospital badges and followed by security guards.

Eventually, her family obtained a restraining order preventing the hospital from terminating her life support.

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA