Jahi McMath to stay on ventilator as judge extends order

Jahi McMath
This undated photo provided by the McMath family and Omari Sealey shows Jahi McMath. The family of a 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain-dead after a tonsillectomy was granted a court order to keep her on ventilator until Jan. 7.
(McMath family / Associated Press )

Just before 13-year-old Jahi McMath was scheduled to be taken off a ventilator Monday, her family was granted an extended court order to keep her on it, even though she was declared brain-dead more than two weeks ago.

Jahi’s uncle, Omari Sealey, told reporters Monday that the family had found a licensed facility in New York state that would accept her and had already contracted an air ambulance to take her there.

But the Oakland hospital wouldn’t “allow us to proceed in that manner,” Sealey said, according to the Oakland Tribune.

The family had therefore filed a new complaint in federal court and also appealed to Alameda County Superior Court to extend its temporary restraining order, the Oakland Tribune reported.


The court order keeping Jahi on a ventilator at Children’s Hospital Oakland was due to expire at 5 p.m. Monday. As the deadline drew closer Monday afternoon, local media reported that a judge had
extended the deadline until Jan. 7.

Court records indicate Jahi was declared brain-dead Dec. 12, three days after she underwent a complex tonsillectomy. The 13-year-old went into cardiac arrest and oxygen stopped flowing to her brain. Five doctors — including three independent physicians requested by the family — concurred that Jahi had no brain activity.

But her parents fought to keep her on a ventilator and sought other facilities to take her in, telling reporters they still had hopes for her survival.

The case has troubled medical and legal ethicists, who worried it had fueled misconceptions that someone without brain function was still treatable.


“Whole brain death” has been widely understood as one of two legal definitions of death, reaffirmed five years ago by a presidential council.


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Lee Romney and Jason Wells contributed to this report.

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