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Originally published January 1, 2014 at 8:44 PM | Page modified January 2, 2014 at 6:44 AM

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Hospital blocks family’s bid to move brain-dead teenager

A lawyer for Children’s Hospital Oakland said it is unwilling to allow an outside doctor to fit Jahi McMath with the breathing and feeding tubes that the family has requested to transport her to another facility.


The Associated Press

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OAKLAND, Calif. — The family of a 13-year-old California girl declared brain dead after tonsil surgery is encountering difficulty in obtaining two surgeries that she needs before she can be safely transferred to a long-term-care facility.

A lawyer for Children’s Hospital Oakland said it is unwilling to allow an outside doctor to fit Jahi McMath with the breathing and feeding tubes that the family has requested.

The hospital will not permit the procedures to be performed on its premises because McMath is legally dead in the view of doctors who have examined her, lawyer Douglas Straus wrote in a letter to the girl’s family.

“Performing medical procedures on the body of a deceased human being is simply not something Children’s Hospital can do or ask its staff to assist in doing,” he said.

The refusal appeared to reverse the position articulated Monday by a hospital spokesman. He said the hospital would allow a doctor retained by the family to insert a feeding tube and to replace the oral ventilator keeping McMath’s heart beating with a tracheal tube, surgical procedures that would stabilize McMath if she is moved to a facility willing to keep caring for her.

Christopher Dolan, the lawyer for Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, said he received the news as he tried to confirm the conditions under which the hospital would have allowed a visiting doctor and nail down the long-term-care facility that might accept the girl as a patient.

Dolan said he has been talking with the New Beginnings Community Center in Medford, N.Y., an outpatient clinic for people with traumatic brain injuries, and with an unnamed facility in Arizona.

Meanwhile, a state appeals court on Tuesday refused to order the hospital to insert the tubes, saying the issue has to go first to the lower-court judge who has ordered the hospital to keep the girl on a ventilator until Jan. 7 pending the family’s appeal. The 1st District Court of Appeal said it would consider the issue later, if necessary.

McMath had a tonsillectomy and related procedures at Children’s Hospital on Dec. 9 to treat sleep apnea. Her family said she went into cardiac arrest after she started coughing up blood in the recovery room. She was declared brain dead three days later. The hospital then moved to take her off the machines that are keeping her heart and lungs going a few days before Christmas.



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