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Update: Brain-Dead Girl Jahi McMath Arrives at New Facility

A death certificate was issued for Jahi.

A Stanford doctor confirmed that Jahi McMath was brain dead, as a legal battle raged over the girl's fate. (Photo Courtesy: McMath family)
A Stanford doctor confirmed that Jahi McMath was brain dead, as a legal battle raged over the girl's fate. (Photo Courtesy: McMath family)

A 13-year-old girl who was declared brain dead after suffering complications from a tonsillectomy at Children's Hospital Oakland last month has arrived at a new care facility, her uncle and a family attorney said Monday morning.

The family of Jahi McMath is optimistic about her new treatment options after her release from the hospital Sunday evening. 

She was first released into the custody of the Alameda County coroner's bureau and then into the custody of her mother. 

A death certificate was issued for her on Dec. 12, according to Alameda County sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson. 

Once in their custody, the family went through with arrangements to have Jahi transported to another health care facility Sunday night, Dolan said. 

A "transfer team" -- that did not include any personnel from Children's Hospital -- oversaw her move from the hospital to an ambulance and eventually to the new facility, Children's Hospital spokesman Sam Singer said. 

The facility is somewhere in the U.S. but Dolan would not say where.

Dolan said that at the new facility, Jahi is being treated as a "human being" instead of a body, which is how the family viewed Children's Hospital's treatment of Jahi. 

She is being given antibiotics for infections she has from bedsores and other nutrients, Dolan said. 

"She laid in the bed and they wouldn't help her," Dolan said about Children's Hospital's treatment of Jahi. 

Singer said that Jahi is deceased and the hospital does not treat dead bodies. "No amount of antibiotics, nutrition...is going to bring back her life," Singer said. "It is heartless and reckless for (Dolan) to say otherwise."

Jahi had been at Children's Hospital since Dec. 9 when she went in for a tonsillectomy to help with a sleep apnea problem. 

There were complications after the procedure that resulted in heavy bleeding, and she was declared brain dead on Dec. 12. 

The family went to court to obtain a restraining order to allow the family more time before the hospital could remove Jahi from a ventilator. 

With the extra time, the family arranged for her transfer to another facility, although it was a harrowing process, with five different facilities agreeing to take Jahi and then backing out at the last minute, Dolan said. 

A Catholic organization eventually accepted her for treatment, and there were no complications in the transfer, Dolan said. 

Her uncle, Omari Sealey, said from Dolan's San Francisco law office this morning, "I'm very relieved to have her removed from Children's Hospital."

He thanked supporters and those who have donated tens of thousands of dollars to the family. He said the donations paid for Jahi's transfer. 

He said Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield, is at the facility with her, and other family members are making arrangements to visit her. 

Sealey said he did not want to give the name or location of the facility because of privacy and safety concerns. 

He said the family and their attorney have received death threats and other hate mail in the past few weeks as their case gained national attention. Dolan said the facility is the "best place she would want to be right now." 

He said Jahi is now receiving her first medical evaluation in weeks.

Sealey, who was there during the transfer, described Jahi as looking "peaceful" and "like she's sleeping." 

A federal court hearing in Oakland remains scheduled for Tuesday afternoon but could be canceled. 

The issue about extending a temporary restraining order to keep Children's from taking Jahi off a ventilator was immediately moot once Jahi's body was removed from Children's. 

The restraining order was scheduled to last until 5 p.m. Tuesday. Other legal issues about performing a tracheotomy and other surgeries on Jahi for her transfer also became moot once she was released from Children's Hospital, Singer said. 

Jahi was moved on a ventilator, according to her family.

Dolan said Tuesday's hearing, if it proceeds, could instead be an opportunity to discuss the "bigger issues" about patient and family rights regarding a brain dead patient that Jahi's situation surfaced. 

Sealey said Jahi's mother was told she had no claim over decisions Children's Hospital made about Jahi's care once she was declared brain dead. 

According to Sealey, this goes against his family's religious beliefs. 

Sealey said his sister sounds happier today with Jahi receiving care. "We never backed down," he said.

Previous Story

A 13-year-old brain dead girl has been released to the custody of her mother Sunday evening, according to an official with Children's Hospital Oakland. 

"A short while ago, the body of Jahi McMath was released by Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland to the coroner," said Dr. David Durand, chief of pediatrics, in a statement.

"The coroner has released her body to the custody of her mother, Latasha Winkfield, as per court order, for a destination unknown," the statement said. 

"Our hearts go out to the family as they grieve for this sad situation and we wish them closure and peace," Durand said. 

Attorneys for the hospital and McMath's family reached an agreement on Friday for the possible removal of McMath to another facility.

Jahi went into the hospital on Dec. 9 for a tonsillectomy procedure that was intended to cure a sleep apnea problem that had made it difficult for her to sleep. 

However, she suffered complications after the procedure and doctors declared her brain dead on Dec. 12. 

Attorney Christopher Dolan said Friday that Jahi's family had arranged for a facility to accept Jahi but he declined to name the facility.

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bruce k January 06, 2014 at 10:23 AM
I feel sorry for the family of this poor girl. What a senseless tragedy to "die" from a tonsillectomy. To say it happens or that surgery is risky hardly does justice to the screw-up that kills someone for such small procedure. The problem in my eyes is that no one really knows what or why this happened and the reality is not likely to be reported. Someone made a mistake and this poor girl is dead. That said, trying to deny it or keep the girl alive does not really help, but it is understandable. The callous handling and remarks from the hospital and doctors show just how thoughtless the medical industry can be. I doubt the operation, a tonsillectomy for sleep apnea, was really even called for, just another billing opportunity by the doctors and hospital, the end result of a driven by profit health care system.

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