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Brain-Dead Girl Released from Hospital

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(Photo credit: Omari Sealey via CNN)

(Photo credit: Omari Sealey via CNN)

(Photo credit: Omari Sealey via CNN)

(CNN) — Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old girl on a ventilator who was declared brain-dead by doctors in California after tonsil surgery, was released from a hospital to her mother Sunday night.

“The body of Jahi McMath was released by Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland to the coroner,” said David Durand, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics. “The coroner has released her body to the custody of her mother, Latasha Winkfield, as per court order, for a destination unknown.”

She left the hospital accompanied by a critical care team, attached to a ventilator, but with no feeding tube in place.

Family attorney Christopher Dolan cheered the development. “She is safely out of Children’s,” he tweeted.

Although a New York facility says it’s ready to care for Jahi, Dolan told reporters Sunday night that her destination won’t be announced.

“We’ve had people make threats from around the country. It’s sad that people act that way,” Dolan said. “So for Jahi’s safety and those around her, we will not be saying where she went or where she is.”

But New Beginnings Community Center in Medford, New York, said it is an option.

“At this time we’re named as the potential facility that Jahi and her family will be coming to, but we will know more details in a couple of hours, and we’ll certainly be happy to let you know as we know,” said Allyson Scerri, founder of the New Beginnings.

On its website, the facility bills itself as an outpatient rehabilitation center for patients with traumatic brain injuries and says it plans to open a long-term care facility. According to her online biography posted on the facility’s website, Scerri worked as a hair stylist for 25 years and founded the facility after her father sustained a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident.

“We are aware of Jahi McMath’s dire situation, and we are willing to open our outpatient facility to provide 24-hour care as an inpatient, long-term facility for Jahi with the required and appropriate medical staff that she depends upon,” Scerri said in a letter included in court documents last week.

The teen was declared brain-dead on December 12, three days after doctors removed her tonsils, adenoids and extra sinus tissue.

A medical and ethical debate

As a fierce court battle unfolded between devastated family members fighting to keep her on the ventilator and doctors arguing she’d already died, the case has drawn national attention and fueled debate.

Doctors and a judge have declared her brain-dead and said there’s no chance Jahi will come back to life.

“Overall, unfortunate circumstances in 13-year-old with known, irreversible brain injury and now complete absence of cerebral function and complete absence of brainstem function, child meets all criteria for brain death, by professional societies and state of California,” Dr. Paul Fisher, chief of pediatric neurology at Stanford University, said in a medical report on the case.

Medical ethicists, meanwhile, say the high-profile case fuels a misperception: that “brain death” is somehow not as final as cardiac death, even though, by definition, it is.

Covering the costs

So far the family has raised more than $48,000 on GoFundMe.com to move her. According to the site, more than 1,300 people have donated money in nine days.

“We’re very grateful, very proud,” said Omari Sealey, Jahi’s uncle. “We want to thank everyone that supported us, everyone that stood in our corner, everyone that prayed for us, everyone that helped donate to make this possible. Without out you guys, none of this would be possible.”

Scerri told CNN Sunday that the girl just needs to be given a chance to recover.

“Her brain needs time to heal. It’s a new injury,” Scerri said. “We believe in life after injury. All of us here at New Beginnings have first-hand experience because we have a loved one that was in the same situation as Jahi.”

Dolan said moving Jahi to a new care facility is critical to her recovery.

“We’re very pleased to announce that Jahi McMath has been taken from Children’s Hospital and brought to a place where they will use her name instead of calling her a body, and where she can get to the starting line instead of where Children’s has left her the past four weeks almost, at the finish line.”

On Friday, the Alameda County coroner issued a death certificate for Jahi.

The certificate, which still needed to be accepted by the health department to become official, listed December 12 as her date of death.

In releasing Jahi, the hospital said: “Our hearts go out to the family as they grieve for this sad situation and we wish them closure and peace.”

23 comments

  • Lindsey b.

    Let them try, no one has any right to tell this family what to do or how to grieve. They will come to terms eventually. If we were in the same situation, you can’t tell me we wouldn’t try to hold on to even the tiniest string of hope for our children, some people are so mean. It’s easier said than done when it’s not your own situation.

  • traci purk

    Its tragic I can understand and sympathize with the family not being ready to let go. But the health care facility makeing statements raising hopes is irresponsible if not criminal . Sadly I feel there is not a chance for recovery and I have to wonder what motivation this facility to encourage the belief that there truly is financial? Publicity? Disgusting.

    • Deborah

      It kind of reminds me of a movie I saw no to long ago. Called John Q. The difference is the situation involved. Hospitals are only concerned about $$$$ and nothing else. It is tragic that the child not alive in medical terms. Brain dead is exactly what is is How sad that the parents can’t face reality. When it is time for her to die God will make that decision and no doctor or neurologist will do so.

  • panda

    The family needs to come back to reality…..this angel needs to be in heaven! Mom get a good lawyer and sue. Won’t bring her back but will make the medical staff pay for being negligent!!! So sad…..

  • xXxthegreatunknownxXx

    Those of us who have not been in this horrible situation, have no right to judge this family. You cannot say that you wouldn’t act the same if it were your child. Sad, indeed, As for tax dollars, they are just that. They are used to fund things that we may not agree upon, but are a mandatory fee put in place and there is nothing that we can do about it. Mad about your tax dollars?! Please……just pay them like everyone else and get over it. There are worse things that they go for and we have no idea. Helping to keep alive an innocent little girl with tax dollars!…what a travesty!!

  • Karen Robinson

    When a doctor and the doctors tell me that my child is dead, due to whatever circumstances you best believe that I will listen to them. What quality of life is a brain dead child going to live. A plant on the window sill is a better option. I will not support those who wish to keep vegetables alive. God showed what he wanted, he killed the child, science is keeping her going

  • Tiffany

    Hope is the only thing that this family still has. Unfortunately, it is most likely false hope. the sooner they let go the sooner that they can begin the healing process. Although, if I was in their situation I would probably be doing the same thing.

  • FedUP

    I heard the Uncle speak last Friday on the radio and he reported that Jahi is responding to voice commands by movement of her shoulders and some other body part.

    I, as a mother, totally understand Jahi’s family’s decision. Very tough pill to swallow when you’re told the exact date and time of your child’s death over a simple surgical procedure.

    My prayers to the family!

  • Yamilet Luna

    I believe in a God that is the same yesterday, today & tomorrow. A god of miracles! & If the family has faith as the bible state like a mustard seed, then I have faith that my God can instill life in her body! In Jesus name AMEN!

  • doesn't matter

    Lol this whole thing is getting ridiculous. Open your eyes people, science will always prove to be true. The girl isn’t waking up. THE END. Waste of money.

  • anonymus

    Smh…mirecals happen everyday people on her saying she’s a waste of money and time are very ignorant…this lil girl suffered injury due to surgery a unexpected decision they family wasent planned to make …..if they have faith just like any parent should on hold on to that hope god works in misterias ways I hope for the best for jahi gods bless her n her family….I also don’t think any negative comment should b allowed posted on a arrival of a during child this shows us the ignorance of america today

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