Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old California girl who was pronounced brain-dead after a routine tonsil and adenoid removal surgery to treat sleep apnea at Oakland Children’s Hospital last year, is now moving at her mother’s command and the family’s attorney is pushing to get the determination of brain death reversed.
After she awoke from the operation, her family said she started bleeding heavily from her mouth — blood clots “were sliding out” according to her mother — and she went into cardiac arrest. There was a contentious legal battle between the hospital—which referred to Jahi as “the body”—and the family, with the coroner finally issuing a death certificate releasing the hospital from providing care for the teen.
Attorney Christopher Dolan filed pleadings in Alameda County Superior Court on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 on behalf of the family and posted videos of Jahi moving her hands and feet at her mother’s command online.
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After weeks of intense litigation, a deal was brokered in the U.S. District Court in Oakland whereby Jahi’s mother, Nailah, was allowed to remove Jahi from Children’s. As part of the proceedings, Alameda Superior Court Judge Emilio Grillo ruled that Children’s did not have to keep Jahi on a ventilator because, pursuant to California’s brain death statute, Health and Safety Code Section 7180 & 7181, Jahi was legally “brain dead,” meaning total and irreversible loss of brain function including the brain stem. Medical experts, including those from Children’s Hospital, said that Jahi’s organs would shut down and her brain would liquefy.
At the time, Sam Singer, spokesman for Children’s Hospital, would not refer to Jahi by name, instead referring to her as “the dead body.” Jahi’s mother fought for her daughter because she “knew that Jahi was ‘in there’ and not brain dead.” Jahi has been at an undisclosed location for nine months where she has received medical care. Newly developed evidence, including MRI films and EEG tests show that Jahi has brain activity and is not brain dead.
“It shows she can rapidly respond to a command … it’s not a fluke,” said Dr. Philip DeFina, a neuroscientist and the chairman of the International Brain Research Foundation.
DeFina’s credibility was called into question in 2012 when he was fired from the Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, New Jersey over a controversial experimental treatment for autism.
The Contra Costa Times has more:
Tests and examinations of Jahi have been performed at Rutgers University in New Jersey with brain researchers and neurologists reviewing and performing them, Dolan said. Those working with the International Brain Research Foundation include Elena Labkovsky, who performed an EEG on Jahi, Cuban neurologist Dr. Calixto Machado and Dr. Charles Prestigiacomo, chair of the department of neurological surgery at Rutgers.
According to DeFina, an MRI shows Jahi’s brain is intact and that there is blood flow to it, which does not fit the criteria for brain death.
Jahi’s family moved her from Oakland to New Jersey where a determination of brain death does not have to be accepted by the family if it is against their religious beliefs.
When Dolan was asked at a press conference about the suggestion that this entire thing was a hoax, he expressed anger, stating, “There are some people who have darkness in their hearts,” he said. “People have been very critical of this family and myself. They say we’re trying to pull a hoax. We’re not. … This is no ruse. This is the truth.”