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Tonsillectomy brain dead: Girl ordered off life support but family can appeal

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UPDATE: Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo has judged on Tuesday that Jahi McMath be taken off life support. However, he ruled that the girl's family has until 5 p.m. Dec. 30 to file an appeal. She will remain on life support until then. Since the judge's first decision, Dr. Paul Graham Fisher - who gave the second evaluation of the girl's condition - reached the same conclusion as the first, which is that she is brain dead.

Original article: In the sad case of Jahi McMath, California Judge Evelio Grillo ordered a hospital to keep the 13-year-old girl on life support for another week, according to a Yahoo! News report on Monday.

The judge ordered that the girl remain on a ventilator until Dec. 30 – or until a further order comes from the court - as a second medical evaluation is conducted. The second evaluation – which is to be done by Tuesday - is to be performed independently by Paul Graham Fisher who is the chief of child neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

As previously reported, the young girl had complications after a tonsillectomy was performed at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California. The family says that the girl bled profusely after a tonsillectomy was performed on her, and she went into cardiac arrest. While doctors at Children’s Hospital determined the girl was brain dead on Dec. 12 and decided to remove her from life support, the girl’s family has wanted to keep her on a respirator and have her moved to another facility. The family continually asserts that they believe the girl is still alive and that the hospital should not take her off of the ventilator without their permission.

A third evaluation of the patient was also requested in an effort to allow Paul Byrne, a pediatric professor at the University of Toledo, to make an evaluation – but the hospital’s attorney objected, saying that Byrne is not a pediatric neurologist.

Dr. David Durand, the chief of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, said that the girl’s surgery was not simply a tonsillectomy – that it was very complex. He also said that while the staff have the deepest sympathy for the family, the girl is brain dead.

Reportedly, when a patient has been declared brain dead, the hospital does not need a family’s permission to keep the patient on a ventilator. Additionally, when a patient is declared brain dead, it is unlikely that the thousands of dollars per day cost for the hospital procedure will be covered by health insurance.

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