OAKLAND, Calif. — A lawyer says a nursing home has agreed to provide long-term care for a 13-year-old girl who has been declared brain-dead but whose family maintains is still alive.
A Southern California facility agreed after another nursing home backed out, the family’s attorney, Christopher Dolan, said Friday.
Dolan wouldn’t name the facility, saying “we’re afraid they’ll be inundated with press” and decide to back out as well.
Time is short for the family, as Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ruled Tuesday that Children’s Hospital Oakland may remove Jahi McMath from life support at 5 p.m. Monday unless an appeal is filed.
Jahi underwent tonsil surgery at Children’s Hospital on Dec. 9 to treat sleep apnea. After she awoke from the operation, her family said, she started bleeding heavily from her mouth and went into cardiac arrest. Doctors at Children’s Hospital concluded Dec. 12 that she was brain-dead and wanted to remove her from life support. The family said they believe she is still alive.
Before Jahi can be transferred, she must undergo two more medical procedures — the insertion of a breathing tube and a feeding tube, both of which would be necessary for her long-term care but which the nursing home is not equipped to perform.
The hospital has refused to perform the procedures.
“Children’s Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice,” David Durand, its chief of pediatrics, said in a statement Thursday.
Douglas Straus, an attorney for the hospital, said in a letter made public Friday that before the hospital would comply with the family’s request to move Jahi, it would need to speak directly with officials at any nursing home to make sure they understand her condition, “including the fact that Jahi is brain-dead” — and to discuss needed preparations, including transportation.
“Children’s Hospital will of course continue to do everything legally and ethically permissible to support the family of Jahi McMath. In that regard, Children’s will allow a lawful transfer of Jahi’s body in its current state to another location if the family can arrange such a transfer and Children’s can legally do so,” Straus wrote in the letter.
He also said the Alameda County coroner needed to sign off on the move “since we are dealing with the body of a person who has been declared legally dead.”
The letter was sent to Dolan after he said he was preparing a federal civil rights lawsuit to force the hospital to outfit Jahi with breathing and feeding tubes. He said the hospital’s refusal to cooperate violated her family’s religious, due process and privacy rights.
In fulfillment of the hospital’s request, Dolan said he had held a three-way conference call Friday with Straus and the director of the nursing home.
Dolan also told the Associated Press on Friday that he had already obtained signed consent from the coroner for Jahi’s transfer.
The Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau said it had no comment.