January 2

Hospital: No surgeries for girl declared brain dead

Her family struggles to move the 13-year-old, on life support after a tonsil operation, to a care facility.

By Lisa Leff and Terry Collins
The Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — The family of a 13-year-old California girl declared brain dead after tonsil surgery is encountering difficulty in obtaining two surgeries 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 the family has requested.

The hospital will not permit the procedures to be performed on its premises because Jahi 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 let a doctor retained by the family to insert a feeding tube and replace the ventilator keeping Jahi’s heart beating with a tracheal tube – procedures that would stabilize Jahi if she is moved to a facility willing to keep caring for her.

“The hospital said, ‘Bring us a doctor’ and we said, ‘Tell us the conditions’ and now, they’ve wasted a half a day of our time. We don’t have much time,” said Christopher Dolan, the lawyer for Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield.

Hospital spokesman Sam Singer said later: “This is academic. They have not produced a single physician.”

Jahi underwent tonsil and nasal surgery 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.

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