Court Delays Hospital Effort to Pull Plug on Brain-Dead Girl

Two doctors have concluded Jahi McMath is brain dead.

ByABC News
December 23, 2013, 1:36 PM
Jahi McMath remains on life support at Children's Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead.
Jahi McMath remains on life support at Children's Hospital Oakland nearly a week after doctors declared her brain dead.
Courtesy of McMath Family and Omari Sealey/AP Photo

Dec. 23, 2013— -- California teen Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead earlier this month after having her tonsils removed during routine surgery, will likely be kept alive through Christmas, the girl's family said today after a court hearing.

"We're definitely going to have her past Christmas, we believe, which is something that's huge," Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, said today. "We wanted to make sure they [the hospital] didn't take her [off life support] before Christmas. We're in an OK place right now."

Jahi, 13, entered Oakland Children's Hospital on Dec. 9 to have her tonsils removed to cure sleep apnea, but ran into complications after surgery, according to her family. They say Jahi was spitting up blood clots before being rushed into surgery. She was declared brain dead on Dec. 12.

READ: Court-Appointed Neurologist to Examine Brain-Dead Teen

The hospital has said it is reviewing the case but cannot comment specifically on the family's account of what went wrong because it is prohibited from speaking publicly about her medical case.

Sealey hosted a rally and march with supporters wearing Jahi's favorite color, purple, outside the hospital today to show support for her.

At the same time, the girl's mother, Nailah Winkfield, attended a court hearing to determine whether a temporary restraining order that was put in place Friday, barring the hospital from removing Jahi from life support, would be extended. The hospital is seeking to have the restraining order lifted.

"The most important thing [today] is the judge is leaving the temporary restraining order in place," Christopher Dolan, the family's attorney, said after the hearing. "We consider this a major victory."

Dolan explained that the family is intent on keeping Jahi alive, on life support, as long as they can.

"The family's goal is to keep her alive as long as possible because they've seen so many issues of spontaneous recovery," Dolan said.

The family has claimed that the hospital has tried to move Jahi out of the hospital or remove her from life support.

The court ruled today that an independent doctor, Stanford University Dr. Paul Graham Fisher, would be appointed to examine Jahi's brain-test results and return to court Tuesday with his findings, Sealey said.

Two doctors from the hospital reviewed the tests previously and concluded that she was brain dead, according to court documents obtained and posted by San Jose, Calif., station KNTV.

Fisher may present his evidence Tuesday in court, but Dolan said he hopes that the judge will set a hearing date for next week so that Jahi will live through Christmas.

Dolan is also asking the judge to allow the family to hire an independent expert of their own choosing to review Jahi's test results, which would also be presented at an evidentiary hearing before the judge finally rules on the restraining order.