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Mother expresses joy that life continues for girl declared brain dead after tonsil surgery

9:15 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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(BCN) - The mother of a 13-year-old girl who has been declared brain dead expressed joy today after a judge extended until Jan. 7 a restraining order barring Children's Hospital Oakland from taking her off life support.

Nailah Winkfield, the mother of Jahi McMath, who had faced the threat of being removed from a respirator after 5 p.m. today, said, "She's going to stay on that ventilator and I'm going to continue thanking God."

Doctors pronounced Jahi brain dead on Dec. 10 after suffering complications from a tonsillectomy procedure three days earlier but Winkfield, fighting back tears, said, "My child is not dead, I don't care what they say."

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo granted McMath's family a temporary restraining order on Dec. 20 barring Children's from taking McMath, an eighth grade student at the E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts in Oakland, off life support.

But Grillo ruled on Dec. 24 that the hospital could take Jahi off life support at 5 p.m. today unless her family successfully appealed his ruling that the hospital had complied with accepted medical standards in determining that she's brain dead.

However, Grillo said today that he would stay his order until Jan. 7 so that he would have time "to assess the merits" of new legal filings by Jahi's family and "give due consideration" to them.

Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, said the family also filed petitions with the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco and in federal court in San Francisco seeking stays that would extend the order keeping Children's from taking Jahi off life support.

Sealey said Jahi's family has located a licensed facility in New York state that will accept Jahi, an air ambulance that will take her to that facility and a doctor who will be with her throughout the transfer.

But he alleged that Children's has refused to cooperate in allowing Jahi to be transferred.

Children's spokesman Sam Singer said the hospital hasn't received any confirmation that another facility would be willing to accept Jahi.

He said another facility "must understand that they would be taking a deceased person on a ventilator."

Singer said Children's wasn't surprised that Grillo extended his restraining order because "this is a charged situation" and the judge apparently wants more time to assess all the issues involved.

However, Singer said, "We're not sure it was the right judgment call" and the hospital is opposing the extension, although it will comply with it.

"We hope we will be successful so this will end," Singer said.

Winkfield said she's convinced that Jahi is still alive because "my daughter moved her whole body and her legs."

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

But Singer said it's "not unusual or shocking" for a dead person's limbs to move occasionally.

Jahi has been at Children's Hospital Oakland since Dec. 9, when she underwent what her family said was supposed to be a routine tonsillectomy to cure a sleep apnea problem that made it difficult for her to sleep.

However, Children's doctors said the surgery was complex.

In the days after the surgery Jahi suffered extensive bleeding and eventually went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead on Dec. 12.

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

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