At 5 p.m. Monday, Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland in Northern California will remove 13-year-old Jahi McMath from life support when a court order to keep the Oakland teen on a ventilator expires. McMath was put on a breathing machine earlier this month after a routine tonsillectomy left her brain-dead.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Jahi’s family is struggling to find a new hospital that will take the girl in before Monday’s deadline. Several hospitals in California have declined their requests, and the family’s attorney is now talking with a care center in New York.
On Dec. 24, a judge denied the family’s petition to keep McMath on life support past Dec. 30. Earlier, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo issued an order that would allow Children’s Hospital of Oakland to pull the plug on McMath at 5 p.m. Monday. The family has said the New York hospital is their “last hope” for keeping McMath on life support. Despite having been declared brain-dead by physicians, the family believes their daughter is still alive.
The family is now hoping to transfer McMath to the hospital in New York. According to New York Daily News, the Children’s Hospital of Oakland said the facility is happy to transfer McMath to another hospital if they can first speak with the other facility. But as of Sunday, the Oakland hospital has yet to hear from the facility in New York.
"Children’s Hospital will of course continue to do everything legally and ethically permissible to support the family of Jahi McMath,” the hospital said in a letter to Christopher Dolan, the attorney representing the girl’s family. “In that regard, Children’s will allow a lawful transfer of Jahi’s body in its current state to another location if the family can arrange such a transfer and Children's can legally do so.”
"We need to be able to talk to the other facility to understand what it is they are capable of doing," Cynthia Chiarappa, a spokeswoman for Children's Hospital, told the family, according to New York Daily News. "This is not transferring an individual in a vegetative state but a dead body."
According to court documents obtained by NBC Bay Area, McMath was declared brain-dead after three separate tests showed there was no “cerebral activity.” An independent pediatric neurologist from Standford University affirmed what the other tests found.
“Because Ms. McMath is dead, practically and legally, there is no course of medical treatment to continue or discontinue; there is nothing to which the family’s consent is applicable,” the court document reads. “Cases cited by Petitioner, regarding the right to self-determination of treatment of a person living in a vegetative state, or on life support, are not applicable. To be blunt, Children’s is currently merely preserving Ms. McMath’s body from the natural postmortem course of events. There is no legal, ethical or moral requirement that it continue to do so or that the family consent in the decision to stop doing so.”
But the family of the brain-dead teen is not giving up yet. McMath’s uncle, Omari Sealey, posted to Instagram that the family will “fight until the very last second." Hashtags like “PrayersForJahi” and “TeamJahi” began trending on the social media site.