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Calif. judge extends life support for brain-dead girl

9:02 PM, Dec 30, 2013   |    comments
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This undated photo shows Jahi McMath. The girl has been declared brain-dead at a California hospital. (Photo: McMath family and Omari Sealey via AP)
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  • SAN FRANCISCO -- Less than an hour before a Monday deadline, a California judge granted a one-week extension of life support for a brain-dead girl while her family seeks another facility to take her.

    Oakland Children's Hospital had been prepared to disconnect 13-year-old Jahi McMath at 5 p.m. PT. She has been on a ventilator since hemorrhaging and suffering a heart attack after a Dec. 9 tonsillectomy and related surgery to treat sleep apnea and other issues.

    Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo extended his earlier order until Jan. 7 after the family said it was arranging to transfer her to a facility in New York state, said her uncle, Omari Sealey.

    "Jahi is moving when her mother speaks," he told reporters outside the hospital, the Oakland Tribune reported. "We have video our attorneys have just produced it to the hospital's attorney. We have a pediatrician who has seen Jahi who has sworn that she is not dead."

    Doctors at Children's Hospital and an independent pediatric neurologist from Stanford University have concluded Jahi is brain-dead, but her family believes she is still alive.

    Sealey said that the family has contracted with an air ambulance to take to to the unidentified New York facility, and that a California doctor would accompany her.

    Sunday, a hospital in Los Angeles rescinded its offer to host the child.

    "This is one of the most tragic situations imaginable," said Sam Singer, a Children's Hospital spokesman. "A family has long their young daughter. But unfortunately, Jahi is deceased. No amount of hope, prayer or medical procedures will bring her back."

    The hospital has said it would not insert a feeding tube or perform a tracheotomy for a breathing tube, calling it unethical.

    "This is not transferring an individual in a vegetative state, but a dead body," said Cynthia Chiarappa, a hospital spokeswoman.

    The hospital also said it would need to confirm there is "a lawful transportation" to any potential facility and written permission from the coroner.

    The family said it had raised more than $25,000 for a possible transfer.

    Contributing: Associated Press

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