Jahi McMath: Stanford neurologist affirms Oakland girl is brain-dead

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An independent neurologist appointed by an Alameda County judge has affirmed that a 13-year-old Oakland girl is brain-dead after a tonsillectomy on Dec. 9, paving the way for her to be removed from life support.

The opinion by Paul Graham Fisher, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Stanford School of Medicine, backs the assessments of two doctors at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland after Jahi McMath had her tonsils removed, went into cardiac arrest and the flow of oxygen to her brain was cut off.

She was declared brain-dead after three tests showed there was no “cerebral activity,” according to court records.


The supervising doctor said in a court declaration that “there is absolutely no medical possibility” that Jahi’s condition is reversible, “or that she will someday recover from death.”

Fisher’s medical opinion could be a huge setback for Jahi’s family, who have been fighting in court to keep her on a ventilator. The hospital has submitted a petition asking to remove the girl from life support.

Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, told CNN and other media that while she’s grateful for the second opinion and court order, she has no intention of giving up the fight.

Family members have accused Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland of being callous in pushing to take Jahi off a ventilator, despite their wishes to keep her on life support.

“I’m her mother. I’m going to support her. It’s my job to do it. Any mother would do it,” Winkfield said in an interview with CNN’s “The Lead” on Monday. “I just want her to have more time. There are so many stories of people waking up in her situation.”

Hospital administrators, citing patient privacy laws, have declined to discuss details of the case, but have said Jahi’s family and friends have perpetuated “misperceptions” about Jahi’s condition.


In statement after statement, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, David Durand, has expressed his “deepest sympathy” for Jahi’s mother. But, he added, “the ventilator cannot reverse the brain death that has occurred and it would be wrong to give false hope that Jahi will ever come back to life.”


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