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Family Will Seek Injunction To Keep Oakland Girl On Life Support

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Jahi McMath (family photo)

Jahi McMath (family photo)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The attorney for the family of a 13-year-old Oakland girl who has been declared brain dead after suffering complications from a routine tonsil-removal surgery said Thursday night that he will seek an injunction on Friday that would prevent her from being taken off life support.

Christopher Dolan, the lawyer for the family of Jahi McMath, said he’s seeking the order because Children’s Hospital Oakland officials want to remove Jahi from life support soon but haven’t specified a specific time.

Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, fighting back tears Thursday night, said she wants the hospital to keep Jahi alive at least through Christmas, saying “I don’t want to have my Christmas every year remind me of her being taken off a ventilator.”

Omari Sealey, Jahi’s uncle, said the family’s meeting with Children’s Hospital officials at 5 p.m. Thursday didn’t go as the family hoped.

Sealey said Dr. David Durand, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, told the family at the meeting that Jahi is “dead dead dead.”

Dolan said he will seek the injunction from a judge in Alameda County Superior Court but a time and courtroom haven’t yet been determined.

Dolan said the hospital also has denied the family’s request for Jahi’s complete medical records and their request to have an outside medical expert make an independent determination as to whether she is brain dead.

According to Sealey, Jahi, an eighth-grade student at the E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts in Oakland, went to Children’s Hospital on Dec. 9 to have her tonsils removed to cure a sleep apnea problem that made it difficult for her to sleep.

But he said Jahi suffered a large amount of bleeding after the surgery, which had been expected to be routine, and eventually went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead on Dec. 12.

Dolan said the hospital had planned to remove Jahi from life support on Tuesday but postponed that action after he sent hospital officials a letter asking that they cease from doing so.

Children’s Hospital officials have said they can’t disclose any of the details of Jahi’s case because her family has asked the hospital not to disclose them to the news media.

In a statement, Children’s Hospital officials said, “Our hearts go out to this patient and her family. We continue to work closely with the family to support them during this painful time.”

Sealey said that even though Jahi has been declared brain dead, “She’s still warm and I can feel her presence and her smile.”

He said he sleeps in a chair next to her every night and attaches headphones from an iPod to her ears “so she can listen to her favorite tunes over and over.”

Sealey said, “If she feels, well she’ll wake up.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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