Family of Jahi McMath struggles to find doctor to insert breathing and feeding tubes
By Dave Andrusko
Nailah Winkfield, mother of Jahi McMath
Jahi McMath remains on a ventilator today as her family continues its frantic struggle to find a doctor who will insert feeding and breath tubes into the 13-year-old who has been diagnosed as brain-dead.
One part of the complex network of requirements has been met, according to the Oakland Tribune and other media outlets: a facility will accept her as a patient.
The facility director of New Beginnings Community Center in Medford, N.Y., “said [Jahi] would be cared for around the clock by licensed nursing staff and licensed respiratory therapists,” according to Katie Nelson of the Tribune. “The facility would also hire a pediatrician who would accept Jahi as his patient.”
Meanwhile Fox News reports that Children’s Hospital Oakland has reversed its position on surgery to implant the tubes. On Tuesday its lawyer, Douglas Straus, wrote to Jahi’s family that the hospital would not permit the surgery to be performed on its premises.
“Performing medical procedures on the body of a deceased human being is simply not something Children’s Hospital can do or ask its staff to assist in doing,” he said.
On Monday a hospital spokesman had said “the hospital would allow a doctor retained by the family to insert a feeding tube and to replace the oral ventilator keeping Jahi’s heart beating with a tracheal tube — surgical procedures that would stabilize Jahi if she is moved to a facility willing to keep caring for her,” according to Fox News.
On Tuesday, a state appeals court refused to order the hospital to insert the tubes, “saying the issue has to go first to the lower court judge who has ordered the hospital to keep the girl on a ventilator until Jan. 7 pending the family’s appeal,” Fox reported. “The 1st District Court of Appeal said it would consider the issue at a later date, if necessary.”
The following day Hospital spokesman Sam Singer said that three separate courts have now denied requests to have someone implement the tracheotomy line to help Jahi breathe and a gastric tube to provide nutrition.
Family attorney Chris Dolan disagreed, noting that the courts have only said they would not order Children’s Hospital Oakland to perform the surgeries.
“This is no trick; this is life and death,” Dolan said in a statement yesterday. “Justice is no hoax, and constitutional rights are not a game.”
Nolan accused the hospital of “speaking out of both sides of their mouths.”
Jahi underwent surgery at Children’s Hospital Oakland in early December to remove her tonsils, adenoids, and extra sinus tissue to treat pediatric obstructive sleep apnea.
After initially weathering the routine surgery well, Jahi began to bleed profusely and went into cardiac arrest. Three days later the hospital declared her to be brain-dead. That a diagnosis was confirmed by Dr. Paul Fisher, a court-appointed pediatric neurologist from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
Her family challenges the diagnosis, saying Jahi responds to her mother’s voice.