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UPDATE: New York Facility Is 'Last Hope' For Girl Declared Brain Dead

The family of Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old girl declared brain dead after complications from routine tonsil surgery, said Saturday a hospital in New York may be able to accept her and keep her on life support.

The girl's uncle and lawyer wouldn't provide the hospital's name, saying they don't want media attention to hurt her chance of being accepted and transferred there.

"It's an organization that believes in life," attorney Chris Dolan told the Associated Press.

"It's our last, last hope," he said after two facilities in California that agreed to accept Jahi decided to back out.

A nursing home in the San Francisco Bay Area that had been willing to care for the girl if she had two tubes inserted changed its mind. Dolan said a facility in the Los Angeles area also withdrew its offer because it didn't want media attention or to jeopardize its relationship with its doctors, who refused to treat someone who's been declared brain dead.

Time is short for the family, as Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo on Tuesday ruled that the Children's Hospital Oakland may remove Jahi from a ventilator at 5 p.m. Monday unless an appeal is filed.

Jahi underwent a tonsillectomy at the hospital on Dec. 9 to treat sleep apnea. After she awoke from the operation, her family said, she started bleeding heavily from her mouth and went into cardiac arrest. Doctors at Children's Hospital concluded the girl was brain dead on Dec. 12 and wanted to remove her from life support. The family said they believe she is still alive.

Before Jahi can be transferred, she must undergo two more medical procedures — the insertion of a breathing tube and a feeding tube.

"Children's Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice," David Durand, its chief of pediatrics, said in a statement Thursday.

Douglas Straus, a lawyer for the hospital, said in a letter made public Friday that before the hospital would comply with the family's request to move Jahi, it would need to speak directly with officials at any nursing home to make sure they understand her condition, "including the fact that Jahi is brain dead" — and to discuss needed preparations, including transportation.

"Children's Hospital will of course continue to do everything legally and ethically permissible to support the family of Jahi McMath. 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," Straus wrote in the letter.

He also said the Alameda County coroner needed to sign off on the move "since we are dealing with the body of a person who has been declared legally dead."

Dolan said he had already obtained signed consent from the coroner for Jahi's transfer.

The Alameda County Coroner's Bureau said it had no comment.

He said Saturday he was waiting to hear from the New York hospital after its facility director and medical director speak.

Hospital spokeswoman Cynthia Chiarappa said the hospital has not heard from any facility to discuss how it can accommodate "a deceased body on a ventilator."

Previous story:

Relatives of a California girl declared brain dead after complications from a tonsillectomy want her moved to a long-term care facility, but face resistance from the hospital where she is due to be disconnected from a breathing machine on Monday.

The family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, who has been without brain function and on a ventilator for two weeks at Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif., said they had found an extended-care center willing to take the girl on an indefinite basis, hospital officials said on Friday.

But the center will not accept Jahi unless she has surgically implanted ports for breathing and feeding tubes placed in her body before the transfer, family attorney Christopher Dolan said on Thursday. He declined to name the facility.

Children's Hospital has agreed to allow Jahi to be moved, but has declined to perform additional procedures on her, hospital spokesman Sam Singer said on Friday.

The family would be required to find an outside physician to implant tracheotomy and gastric tubes in the girl and supply lawful transportation services for her, Singer said. Hospital officials also would need to know the name of the facility taking Jahi, but that information had not been provided, he added.

Children's Hospital's chief of pediatric medicine, Dr. David Durand, said in a statement that the hospital "does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice."

Dolan could not be reached for comment on Friday, but was quoted in local media as saying the family was looking at various legal options, including seeking federal court intervention in the case.

"They (Children's Hospital) don't want the attention that's going on over there, so just help us to get her out of there," Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield, told CNN on Friday.

"I would probably need my child's heart to stop to show me that she was dead," Winkfield said. "Her heart was still beating, so there's still life there."

According to medical experts, Jahi's lungs and heart are only continuing to function artificially because of air being forced in and out of her body by the ventilator, without which her breathing and heartbeat would cease. Unlike an individual in a coma or a vegetative state, Jahi lacks any brain activity whatsoever, rendering her unable to breathe on her own, doctors said.

Jahi was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 9 for surgery to remove her tonsils as a means of treating her sleep apnea. Shortly after the procedure, she began to bleed severely, suffered a heart attack and brain swelling, Dolan said. Hospital officials declared her brain dead on Dec. 12.

The girl's family, who has expressed hope that Jahi might recover despite her diagnosis, won a restraining order on Monday barring the hospital from removing her from a ventilator.

On Tuesday, following court testimony by two pediatric neurologists that Jahi was beyond recovery, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo denied a request by relatives to extend his restraining order, which prohibits the hospital from taking her off the breathing machine without the family's consent before Monday at 5 p.m. local time.


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