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Tonsil surgery tragedy: Teen declared brain dead after routine tonsil sugery

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A tonsil surgery tragedy left a Calif. teen brain dead after what was supposed to be a standard tonsillectomy. Thirteen-year-old Jahi McMath has been on a ventilator since Dec. 12, declared neurologically unresponsive after her routine surgery at Children's Hospital in Oakland went terribly wrong.

The Associated Press on Friday reported that Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo has ordered that the teen remain on life support so that her condition can be further evaluated. McGrath’s family obtained the court order while they seek a second opinion as to their daughter’s condition.

The AP report picks up the story:

“After her daughter underwent a supposedly routine tonsillectomy and was moved to a recovery room, Nailah Winkfield began to fear something was going horribly wrong. Jahi was sitting up in bed, her hospital gown bloody, and holding a pink cup full of blood.”

"Is this normal?" Winkfield repeatedly asked nurses.

Jahi reportedly was bleeding uncontrollably for hours, then went into cardiac arrest.

In a statement from the hospital, Dr. David Durand, the hospital's pediatrics chief, said that they are unable to openly discuss Jahi’s case, but added that the medical staff is imploring the family to allow them to release information that would render “closure and deeper understanding” of what occurred.

“We are unable — without the family's permission — to talk about the medical procedure, background or any of the details that are a part of this tragedy,” Dr. Durand said Thursday. “We implore the family to allow the hospital to openly discuss what has occurred and to give us the necessary legal permission — which it has been withholding — that would bring clarity, and we believe, some measure of closure and deeper understanding of this medical case.”

Before the surgery, Winkfield said her daughter asked if she would wake up. To her relief, she did, and was doing fine, even eating a popsicle. But hours later, she began to bleed effusively from her mouth and nose.

“I don't know what a tonsillectomy is supposed to look like after you have it, but that blood was un-normal for anything,” Winkfield said.

The family said hospital officials wanted to immediately remove Jahi from life support. The family then appealed for a court order to keep her body on support.

"I just looked at the doctor to his face and I told him you better not touch her," Winkfield recalled.

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