The family of 13-year-old Jahi McMath and the hospital where a Dec. 9 tonsillectomy left the Black girl brain dead are to meet in a federal court in California Jan. 3 as the battle over the girl’s fate enters its fourth week.
A federal magistrate ordered the hearing as the Oakland, Calif. girl’s family searches–five days before a court order to maintain life support expires–for a doctor who is willing to perform a tracheotomy and insert a breathing tube so she can be moved to a facility that has agreed to provide long-term care.
“I'm her mother. I'm going to support her. It's my job to do it. Any mother would do it,” Nailah Winkfield told CNN Dec. 30. “I just want her to have more time. There are so many stories of people waking up in her situation.”
The case highlights what some believe is a dilemma facing U.S. health care, “surrounding the deaths of patients within the confines of hospital corporations, which have a vested financial interest in discontinuing life,” the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network said in a statement. The group is named after a brain-damaged Florida woman who died in 2005 after almost 15 years in a vegetative state.
The paradox: She is brain dead and doctors at Children's Hospital– nor most around the country–will perform the procedures. Outside doctors cannot operate inside the Oakland hospital, leaving the family with the option of moving her to a nearby facility for an emergency operation before she can be flown to New Beginnings Community Center on Long Island in New York, the facility that has agreed to accept Jahi.
The New Beginnings Center “is about preserving life and treating brain-injured patients with care and dignity,” said a foundation spokesman.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo initially ruled that doctors could remove ventilators from her body about a week ago but two hours before the 5 o’clock p.m. deadline, he gave the family an extension until Jan. 7, 2014.
Sam Singer, hospital spokesman, states that three separate courts have denied Dolan’s requests to have a tracheotomy line to help McMath breathe.
The California Department of Public Health announced its plan to open an investigation into the hospital’s post-surgery treatment of the girl.
Medical Air Ambulance estimated a cost of $31, 910 to fly her from Oakland, Calif. to New Beginnings in Medford, N.Y.
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