Family of girl declared brain dead after tonsil surgery to sue to keep her on life support

8:55 PM, Dec 30, 2013   |    comments
This undated file photo provided by the McMath family and Omari Sealey shows Jahi McMath. (Photo: AP Photo/Courtesy of McMath Family and Omari Sealey)
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UPDATE 9:13 p.m.: A judge has extended until Jan. 7 a restraining order barring Children's Hospital Oakland from taking Jahi McMath off life support.

(BCN) - The family of a 13-year-old girl declared brain dead after suffering complications from surgery at Children's Hospital Oakland is trying to make last-minute arrangements to keep her on life support but is still encountering resistance from the hospital, the girl's uncle said this afternoon.

Children's Hospital Oakland will be allowed take Jahi McMath, an eighth-grade student at the E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts in Oakland, off of life support at 5 p.m. today barring a last-minute legal maneuver or a transfer to another facility by the girl's family, a hospital spokesman said.

Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, said outside of Children's Hospital this afternoon that Jahi moves when her mother speaks to her and touches her and that a pediatrician saw her today and says she's not dead.

Sealey said the family has found a licensed facility in New York willing to take Jahi and has arranged an air ambulance to take her there and a doctor who will be with her during the transfer.

But Sealey said that Children's Hospital has still not agreed to facilitate the transfer, but did not say what the basis for the refusal is. Children's Hospital officials have not commented on the family's latest statement.

Children's Hospital spokesman Sam Singer previously said the family and their attorney, Christopher Dolan, haven't told the hospital of any facility that will take her.

Singer said Children's Hospital told Jahi's family that the girl could be transferred to another facility provided certain conditions are met but that so far the family hasn't found another place for her.

To extend today's 5 p.m. deadline, the family is filing a new complaint in federal court to seek a temporary restraining order to prevent them from "pulling the plug," according to Sealey.

The family is also filing an appeal of Judge Evelio Grillo's ruling in Alameda County Superior Court last week that set today's 5 p.m. deadline, Sealey said.

Grillo granted Jahi's family a temporary restraining order requiring Children's Hospital to keep Jahi on life support, but last Tuesday he said the hospital had provided convincing evidence that the girl was brain dead and could remove her from life support at 5 p.m. today unless Jahi's family was granted a stay by a higher court.

Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield, said in a posting on the website on Sunday that one facility that had been expected to accept Jahi had backed out but "we still have a chance at one more facility so let's pray."

READ MORE: Open letter from the mother of girl declared brain dead after tonsil surgery

As of 11 a.m. today, the website had collected $22,600 in contributions to help pay the cost of transferring Jahi to another facility.

Jahi went to Children's Hospital on Dec. 9 for what her family said was supposed to be a routine tonsillectomy to cure a sleep apnea problem.

However, doctors said the surgery was complex, and Jahi suffered complications in the days after the procedure. She was declared brain dead on Dec. 12.

READ MORE: Family finds facility to take girl declared brain dead

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