- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lawyers for a California hospital and a 13-year-old girl declared clinically dead after surgery to remove her tonsils have been ordered to meet with a federal magistrate judge on Friday.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong of the Northern District of California issued an order asking lawyers for the hospital and the family of Jahi McMath, 13, to attend a mandatory conference aimed at settling the matter and avoiding a trial.

Jahi remains on a ventilator in Children’s Hospital Oakland, where she was admitted for a Dec. 9 tonsillectomy. She suffered postoperative bleeding and cardiac arrest, and has been declared “brain dead” by the hospital and a court-appointed expert.

The family, led by mother Latasha Nailah Winkfield, wants the hospital to perform surgery to insert breathing and feeding tubes for Jahi, so she can be transferred to another facility. They have raised more than $43,000 at the gofundme.com website for Jahi.

The hospital said it does not insert tubes on someone who is brain dead, and it wants to shut off the ventilator.
Christopher Dolan, an attorney for the family, said in a statement that Jahi has been without a feeding tube for several weeks and the hospital is “starv[ing]” her.

The matter has gone to a California court, where Alameda County Superior Judge Evelio Grillo has ordered the hospital to keep the girl on a ventilator until Jan. 7, while the family appeals. He had earlier said the machine could be shut off at 5 p.m. Dec. 30.

Meanwhile, an organization associated with a woman at the center of a landmark battle over euthanasia and the right to life has become involved with the McMath case.

The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network says it is looking for surgeons and other professionals to insert the tubes for Jahi. The network and its allies are also working to get Jahi moved out of the Oakland hospital and into a “safe place.”

Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage after a heart attack in 1990 and was connected to a feeding tube until 2005. Her husband and her parents battled over her life; in the end, the courts gave her husband permission to disconnect her from the machines over her parents’s objections.

The Terri Schiavo organization issued a statement this week on Jahi’s situation, saying hospital corporations have a “vested financial interest in discontinuing life.”

The Oakland hospital says California law accepts “brain death” as death and that “Jahi is, sadly, deceased.” It said it doesn’t ask its staff to perform operations on persons who are no longer considered living.

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