Two crucial hearings today in fight over Jahi McMath

Friday, January 3, 2014 - 9:41am

There will be two crucial court hearings Friday in the ongoing battle over Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl on a ventilator who has been declared dead by doctors.

A settlement hearing is expected in federal court and another hearing is scheduled in state court, court officials said.

In federal court, a magistrate will oversee mandatory talks between representatives of Children's Hospital Oakland and the family of Jahi McMath,CNN affiliate KTVU reported.

In state court, also Friday morning, an Alameda County judge, will be talking to both sides about the controversial issue that has become a national news story.

All this comes as a deadline looms. A judge has ruled that Jahi can be cut off a ventilator at 5 p.m. (8 p.m. ET) on January 7.

Bleeding profusely

Last month, Jahi had surgery to remove her tonsils, adenoids and extra sinus tissue. Doctors had recommended the surgery to treat pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that made her stop breathing in her sleep and caused other medical problems.

Before the surgery, Jahi said she was worried that she would never wake up, according to her uncle. She seemed fine after the surgery and asked for a Popsicle because her throat hurt.

It wasn't long before something went terribly wrong. In the intensive care unit, the girl began bleeding profusely -- an image that her mother told CNN would be forever seared in her mind.

According to family members, Jahi went into cardiac arrest. Days later, she was declared brain dead.

Hospital officials have said privacy laws prevent them from discussing details of the case.

More support

The family of Terri Schiavo has joined the battle recently.

"Together with our team of experts, Terri's Network believes Jahi's case is representative of a very deep problem within the U.S. healthcare system -- particularly those issues surrounding the deaths of patients within the confines of hospital corporations, which have a vested financial interest in discontinuing life," the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network said in a prepared statement.

The organization said it has been overseeing the efforts of several groups to help get Jahi transferred out of Children's Hospital Oakland and brought "to a safe place."

Jahi's family said Tuesday it had found a facility in New York willing to take her. The Oakland hospital "refused to agree to allow us to proceed in that matter," Jahi's uncle Omari Sealey said.

The hospital denied the accusation.

"We have done everything to assist the family of Jahi McMath in their quest to take the deceased body of their daughter to another medical facility," hospital spokesman Sam Singer said.

"To date, they have been unwilling or unable to provide a physician to perform the procedures necessary, transportation, or a facility that would accept a dead person on a ventilator. Our hearts and thoughts go out to them in this tragic situation, but the statements being made by their attorney and some family members are misleading and untrue."

Family attorney Christopher Dolan had accused the hospital of being "hell bent" on ending Jahi's life.

A judge has declared Jahi brain dead as well. Doctors say there's no chance she will come back to life.

Omari Sealey, Jahi's uncle, said Wednesday that the family still hopes to move her to another facility.

He accused the hospital of starving his niece by not using a feeding tube to provide her with nutrients.

Singer said a judge Tuesday had dismissed the family's request for additional medical procedures, including a feeding tube.


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