Last month, 13 year old Jahi McMath underwent a procedure to remove her tonsils, adenoids, and sinus tissue which doctors believed were causing her pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, a conditions which obstructs one's breathing while sleeping and can lead to further medical issues. During the initial stages of her recovery, all was fine. However, McMath would later go into cardiac arrest in the intensive care unit and would lose much blood. Shortly after this incident, McMath was declared brain dead.
Since that time, courts in Oakland, California have upheld the decision of the hospital to pronounce McMath brain dead. Doctors have refused to treat McMath any further, stating that it would be unethical to perform any procedures on a legally dead patient. As such, doctors asked for McMath to be removed from her life support system, a move which was met with much resistance from McMath's family.
After initial court proceedings, the judge ruled that the hospital could remove McMath from her life support systems after 5 PM Monday. However, after reviewing the case and hearing more arguments from the girl's family and attorney, the judge extended the deadline until January 7th.
McMath's family and attorney believe that the hospital is "hell bent" on ending McMath's life. However, hospital officials have stated that they have treated McMath to the best of their abilities:
"We have done everything to assist the family of Jahi McMath in their quest to take the deceased body of their daughter to another medical facility.To date, they have been unwilling or unable to provide a physician to perform the procedures necessary, transportation, or a facility that would accept a dead person on a ventilator. Our hearts and thoughts go out to them in this tragic situation, but the statements being made by their attorney and some family members are misleading and untrue," stated hospital spokesman Sam Singer.
Recent news may have reversed McMath's fortune, however.
The Life & Hope Network, formerly the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, has stepped up to offer their aid to McMath and her family. In a press release dispersed on New Year's Eve, the Life & Hope Network stated, "Together with our team of experts, Terri’s Network believes Jahi’s case is representative of a very deep problem within the U.S. healthcare system – particularly those issues surrounding the deaths of patients within the confines of hospital corporations, which have a vested financial interest in discontinuing life."
In order to combat this problem, the Life & Hope Network has decided to work alongside Allyson Scerri's New Beginnings Community Center for Brain Injury Rehabilitation in order to get McMath the treatment she needs to escape her current state. Terri Schiavo's brother and mother both participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Scerri's facility, a facility Scerri opened after her father fell from a ladder and suffered brain injuries.
New Beginnings has posted on its Facebook page about how it is willing to do whatever is necessary to help Jahi McMath and is working with the Life & Hope Network to get McMath transferred to the clinic before the January 7th deadline. Scerri even wrote to McMath's attorney, stating that "We will be providing Jahi McMath 24-hour licensed nursing staff and licensed respiratory therapists. We are also hiring a pediatrician who will accept her as his patient."
Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle to transporting McMath to a facility willing to take her on as a patient is not willingness, but rather budget. The estimated cost of transporting McMath while maintaining her life support is $31, 910.
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