Terri Schiavo family becomes involved in Jahi's case

Jan. 1, 2014 at 11:54 PM
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OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The family of Terri Schiavo, a comatose woman who died in 2005, has become involved in helping the family of a comatose California teenager.

Jahi McMath's family hopes to transfer the 13-year-old from Children's Hospital Oakland to New Beginnings, a New York facility dedicated to Schiavo's memory, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Jahi's family has gone to court to force Children's to keep her on a ventilator, while the hospital contends she is brain dead.

Schiavo was the focus of a lengthy legal battle between her husband, who wanted to remove her from a feeding tube and allow her to die, and her parents. In the months before her death, the case attracted national attention.

The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Foundation said Tuesday it has been helping Jahi's family but has done so quietly because of the case's "sensitivity."

"Jahi McMath has been labeled a 'deceased' person. Yet she retains all the functional attributes of a living person, despite her brain injury," the foundation said. "This includes a beating heart, circulation and respiration, the ability to metabolize nutrition and more. Jahi is a living human being."

Allyson Scerri, the founder of New Beginnings in Medford, N.Y., made a similar statement Tuesday on her Facebook page, the Mercury News said.

Children's Hospital Oakland says Jahi is brain dead with no chance of recovery, KGO-TV, San Francisco, reported Wednesday. The hospital wants to remove her from a ventilator.

Jahi's family has won a court order requiring the hospital to keep her on the ventilator until next Tuesday, the day a hearing is scheduled in federal court.

Relatives say the girl cannot be moved until she has a tracheotomy and surgery necessary to insert a feeding tube.

"What the family attorney is demanding is for surgery to be done, for anesthesia to be applied to someone who is deceased, that's just not done," Sam Singer, a spokesman for the hospital.

Jahi has been comatose since tonsil surgery went badly wrong three weeks ago.

"Pretty much we want Children's Hospital to either help us or get out of our way," her uncle, Omari Sealey, told KGO.

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