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Judge: Hospital Can Disconnect Jahi McMath From Life Support On December 30th

| by Jonathan Wolfe

A California judge ruled yesterday that the hospital taking care of 13-year-old Jahi McMath may disconnect her from life support. McMath has been on life support since Dec. 9 when complications with a routine tonsillectomy left her brain dead.

Doctors at Children's Hospital of Oakland declared McMath brain dead on Dec. 12. They told McMath’s family that, tragically, their daughter's brain had stopped functioning and the only thing keeping her alive is life support. The family went court and appealed the medical staff’s decision. McMath's family says they are still hoping for a miracle in which their daughter's brain will spark back to life.

The presiding judge granted the family the right have a second expert come and examine their daughter’s brain before life support is disconnected. On Monday, McMath's family attorney appointed Paul Graham Fisher, chief of child neurology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, to examine Jahi.

After running a number of tests on the teenager, Fisher came to the same conclusion as the hospital’s doctors: McMath is brain dead. Once the brain stops functioning entirely, it has no hope of restarting itself.

Accordingly, the presiding judge ruled yesterday that the hospital may disconnect Jahi from life support. The hospital released a brief statement on the ruling yesterday.

"Our hearts go out to the grieving family and community about this sad situation," the hospital said. "We have the deepest sympathy for Jahi's mother who wishes her daughter was alive."

But, the statement continued, "the ventilator cannot reverse the brain death that has occurred and it would be wrong to give false hope that Jahi will ever come back to life."

The hospital may disconnect Jahi from the venitlator on Dec. 30 at 5:00 p.m. Presiding Judge Evelio Grillo offered his condolences to the heart broken McMath family.

"This has been very, very hard on you," Judge Grillo said. "No one anywhere would wish this to happen to anyone. ... I hope you find some comfort in your religion."

Sources: USA Today, LA Times