- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The family of a California teenager declared brain-dead after suffering complications from sleep apnea surgery is seeking an unprecedented court order declaring her alive.

The family’s attorney, Chris Dolan, argued in court papers filed this week that 13-year-old Jahi McMath is no longer brain-dead and shows significant signs of life.

Jahi’s mother has kept her organs functioning on life support at an undisclosed location since the girl’s operation went awry at an Oakland hospital, where she was determined to be brain-dead in December.

Dolan acknowledges that a recovery from brain death would be a medical first. But he says the girl’s brain scans show electrical activity, and she responds to verbal commands from her mother and a doctor.

Lawyers for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital said the evidence in Jahi’s case still supports the determination that she is legally dead.

“This is a sad situation where the court made the correct determination that Jahi McMath was dead,” hospital attorney Douglas Strauss stated in court papers. “There is no factual basis or legal justification for requiring those involved to endure re-litigation of that properly reached determination.”

The girl underwent surgery Dec. 9, began bleeding heavily and went into cardiac arrest. She was declared brain-dead Dec. 12.

Her mother and other family members refuse to believe the girl is dead as long as her heart is beating. They went to court last winter seeking an order to prevent the hospital from removing the respirator and feeding tube that was keeping her body functioning.

The two sides reached an agreement allowing Jahi to be transferred if her mother assumed responsibility for further complications. She was removed from Children’s Hospital on Jan. 5, less than two days before an injunction that would have allowed the hospital to remove the equipment.

Strauss argues that the deadline to ask a judge to reconsider his ruling has long passed.

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