Following a day long court hearing in an Oakland Superior Court, the attorney for the McMath family has quietly announced a victory for their daughter, Jahi.
Children’s Hospital of Oakland was ordered on Friday, January 3rd, more than 20 days after Jahi was placed on a ventilator, to return authority for her care to her parents.
The order further stipulated that Children’s Hospital permit a critical care team to enter the hospital and remove Jahi from that hospital to another facility, which is, as yet, unnamed.
The family has until January 6th to make all the necessary arrangements, or, apparently on that date the hospital has been given the right to remove Jahi from life support.
The Judge rejected the attorney’s request to order the hospital to perform the trachea and gastric tube procedures since hospital spokespersons claimed that they would be performing unnecessary surgery on a non-living body. Jahi remains, at this point, without nutrition and hydration.
The hospital has maintained that their declaration of brain death is a declaration of total and irreversible death which, they declare, occurred on December 12th. The Coroner’s office has issued a death certificate in Jahi McMath’s name declaring that she is a deceased human being as of December 12, 2013.
The hospital will turn Jahi over to the Coroner who will give Jahi to her parents.
A caution has been given to the family by Children’s hospital, regarding the parents responsibility and accountability for Jahi’s condition once she leaves the hospital. The mother must acknowledge that the “transfer and subsequent transport could impact the condition of the body, including causing cardiac arrest.”
The hospital and, it would appear, the court papers continue to refer to Jahi not as a living human being, but as ‘a body’ a corpse, yet they illogically also speak in terms of this transfer possibly causing the corpse to have a cardiac arrest.
Jahi McMath not only entered a hospital on December 9, 2013, to have her tonsils removed, she has unknowingly thrown a spotlight on the darker side of palliative care.
Palliative, rather than curative care was what Jahi received. Palliative care is that form of care, or lack thereof, that a patient who is expected to die would receive prior to death, consisting mostly of a narcotic, especially if that patient has become an organ donor.
Between the dates of December 9, when the surgery occurred and December 12th some medical misadventure took place regarding Jahi’s care by the hospital and this otherwise healthy child was declared brain dead. Since the hospital has remained silent on what type of care was or was not given it is only speculation on the part of the public as to why this situation occurred.
When Jahi experienced a cardiac arrest did the hospital not treat this cardiac episode? Did they immediately assume that the parents would accept the brain death diagnosis and authorize her organs to be donated?
According to Children’s and outside medical spokespersons, it is rare that a family rejects a request for organ donation following a declaration of brain death.
The Teri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, seeing similarities between Jahi’s treatment and that of Teri Schiavo, have taken an interest in Jahi’s case and have been working to find a long term care facility for Jahi.
Following the heart attack Jahi was placed on a ventilator. The public only begins to hear about this sad case when the hospital approaches the parents to request permission to remove the ventilator.
Jahi’s parents, Marvin and Nailah Winkfield, refuse that permission and seek legal help from attorney Christopher Dolan to force Children’s hospital to maintain their daughter on the ventilator. According to the parents consistent statements Jahi is very much alive, removing her from the ventilator will kill her.
The hospital, however, declares that since she is brain dead they have no responsibility to treat her as though she is a living patient. The family, through their attorney had requested that a tracheostomy be performed to facilitate her breathing and that a gastric feeding tube be inserted to supply nutrition. The hospital refused and set up barriers to any outside medical person entering the hospital to perform those procedures.
Certain publicly unidentified hospitals apparently came forward to take Jahi into their care but upon learning that Children’s refused to first supply the needed trachea and gastric insertions, reneged and left Jahi to the mercy of Children’s hospital.
Judge Evelio Grillo of Oakland, CA Superior Court summoned Jahi McMath’s family, attorney, Christopher Dolan, and representatives of Oakland Children’s Hospital to meet and reach a settlement in the case of this hospital declared brain dead thirteen year old.
Marvin and Nailah Winkfield, parents of 13-year old Jahi have agreed to accept all responsibility for moving her to another, as yet, undisclosed, facility where they believe that she will get the nutrition and fluids that they believe Children’s hospital has been negligent in refusing to provide their daughter.
There has been no other news since the Friday court settlement. Though the court has recognized the parents authority over their child, her future is at this time still uncertain. Her parents seem to understand that her chances of survival are slim, but they have fought the legal powers fiercely to maintain their rights as parents.
If Jahi should not survive she will have had the opportunity to die in the arms of her loving parents, not at the hands of a legal system which cares more for its bottom line and reputation than it does for a vulnerable 13-year old child.
Spero columnist Camille Giglio is a freelance writer who resides in California.
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