Issues

Jahi McMath ordered to stay on life support

Jahi McMath

The controversial California case of Jahi McMath, who was diagnosed as “brain dead” due to complications following routine tonsil surgery, has made progress. Yesterday an Alameda County judge ruled that Jahi will — in accordance with her family’s wishes — stay on her ventilator contrary to the wishes of her hospital. The judge has granted that an independent neurologist may examine Jahi to further assess her situation.

The independent doctor will be able to make a more unbiased diagnosis than Jahi’s doctors may have, unaffected by hospital politics and the tendency of hospitals to want to free up beds whenever possible. Jahi’s independent doctor will be Paul Graham Fisher, who is the chief of child neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

The tests will determine whether there is still any blood flow to or activity in Jahi’s brain. Jahi’s grandmother is a nurse, and one of the first people who noticed that something was wrong after Jahi’s tonsillectomy earlier this month. She and Jahi’s family believe that Jahi deserves to be examined and assessed by a physician who was not part of the team that erred in the first place, causing Jahi’s complications to begin with. Jahi’s grandmother said:

It’s wrong for someone who made mistakes on your child to just call the coroner … and not respect the family’s feeling or rights. I know Jahi suffered, and it tears me up.

The judge has ordered the hospital to keep Jahi on the ventilator until December 30, or upon further instructions from the court, which will also likely be influenced by the independent physician’s assessment of Jahi.

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