Life support extended for teen left brain-dead after tonsil surgery

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A California family has won the right to keep a brain-dead 13-year-old girl on life support after complications from having her tonsils removed, officials said.

Jahi McMath was admitted to the Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland Dec. 9 to have her tonsils removed. Doctors convinced the teenager and her mother, Latasha "Nailah" Winkfield, she should have the procedure as a cure for her weight gain and sleep apnea.


Right after the surgery things appeared to have gone well but then Jahi began coughing up blood. Shortly after that she went into cardiac arrest and blood flow to her brain was cut off, doctors said. Though they were able to revive her, Jahi's brain had swollen severely and a CT scan showed she has no brain activity.

The hospital had said they were going to take the teen off life support but stopped when presented with the threat of legal action by an attorney the family hired.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday the hospital has the legal authority to remove the girl's life support if she's brain dead because the lack of brain activity is enough to define someone as legally dead -- hereby freeing the hospital of obligations to continue caring for an individual.


Hospital officials expressed sympathy for the family's situation but declined comment, citing privacy concerns.

Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, said Monday the family was grateful the hospital backed away from threats to terminate the teen's life support.

"We're not on doctors' times anymore, we're on God's time. It's provided us more time to get together and pray," Sealey said.

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