OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A judge said Friday that the mother of a 13-year-old girl who was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery can remove her daughter from a California hospital if she assumes full responsibility for the consequences.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo said Jahi McMath can be transferred under a deal with Children’s Hospital Oakland that will hold Nailah Winkfield accountable for developments that could include Jahi going into cardiac arrest.
The hospital has declared the girl brain dead and wants to disconnect her from a ventilator. Winkfield has gone to court to stop the move and wants to transfer her daughter to another facility after forcing the hospital to fit Jahi with breathing and feeding tubes or allowing an outside doctor to perform the surgical procedures.
Judge Grillo rejected the family’s move to have the hospital insert the tubes, noting the girl could be moved with the ventilator she is now using.
The family’s attorney, Christopher Dolan, called the agreement a big step in resolving the dispute.
“This is a victory because we will now not run into any roadblocks with the hospital when we make the efforts to do this,” Dolan said. “Time is of the essence.”
It was unclear when the girl might be moved and a transfer could depend on the outcome of a separate hearing on Friday before U.S. Magistrate Donna Ryu involving the dispute.
Jahi went into cardiac arrest while recovering from the Dec. 9 surgery and shows no signs of brain activity, court records show.
Thus far, the family has not found a doctor who is willing to insert the tubes, but relatives said they may have found a facility in New York that’s willing to care for the girl.
Hospital lawyer Douglas Straus told reporters after Friday’s state court hearing that he hopes the family will soon conclude the girl has passed away.
“It’s horrible that this child has died. It’s also horrible that it’s so difficult for her family to accept that death,” said Straus, choking up. “I constantly think that wouldn’t it be great if they were able to come to terms with the terrible tragic event and that I didn’t have to stand in front of you all time after time.”