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Judge orders hospital to keep brain-dead girl on ventilator

Family of Jahi McGrath (inset) refuse to accept brain-dead diagnosis.
Family of Jahi McGrath (inset) refuse to accept brain-dead diagnosis.AP

Alameda County judge Judge Evelio Grillo has ordered Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA to keep 13-year old Jahi McMath on a respirator for at least another week to allow for further investigation into her death following complications during a tonsillectory there.

Doctors at the hospital pronounced the girl “brain dead” on December 12th, and have wanted to remove her from life support since then, despite her family’s insistence that she be kept hooked up to a respirator until they can have her moved to a different facility.

"It's wrong for someone who made mistakes on your child to just call the coroner ... and not respect the family's feeling or rights," stated Jahi’s grandmother, Sandra Chatman, a registered nurse, outside the courtroom, reiterating the family’s belief that she is still alive.

At the same time, Dr. David Durand, chief of pediatrics at Children's Hospital commented that although he and the staff “have the deepest sympathy for the family, 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."

In the meantime, Judge Grillo’s order will enable an independent examination using an electroencephalogram, or EEG, and tests to see if blood is still flowing to Jahi's brain to be conducted next week by Paul Graham Fisher, the chief of child neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine. Jahi’s relatives have also requested permission to have a third evaluation done , evaluation by Paul Byrne, a pediatric professor at the University of Toledo. Despite objections from the hospital citing that “he is not a pediatric neurologist.”

Byrne is the co-editor of the 2001 book "Beyond Brain Death," which presents a variety of arguments against using brain-based criteria for declaring a person dead.