Hospital, family agree on transfer of brain-dead girl

A California hospital and the family of a brain-dead girl have agreed on conditions for transferring the teen to another facility, a judge announced Friday.

The agreement calls for an outside medical team to move 13-year-old Jahi McMath from Children's Hospital Oakland and for her mother to take full responsibility for her body during the transfer to another facility. The family has until 5 p.m. Tuesday to transfer Jahi's body or the hospital can disconnect her life support.

In announcing the agreement, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo denied the family's request to compel Children's Hospital or an outside physician to insert feeding and breathing tubes to facilitate the move.

The agreement also required that the Alameda County coroner sign a document accepting Jahi's body. Friday, the coroner issued a death certificate that stated she died Dec. 12, when doctors declared her brain dead. No cause of death is listed, pending an autopsy, the Oakland Tribune reported.

The family's attorney, Christopher Dolan, would not say where or when Jahi would be transferred. He called the agreement "a victory in terms of getting us one step closer."

Jahi suffered from sleep apnea and other health issues, doctors and her family have said. She underwent surgery Dec. 9 to remove her tonsils and other tissue to improve her breathing, but while in the recovery room she began hemorrhaging, suffered cardiac arrest and lapsed into a coma.

Her mother, Nailah Winkfield, believes Jahi is still alive, despite determinations by the hospital and a court-appointed neurologist that she is dead.

Grillo previously set a Dec. 30 deadline that would have allowed the hospital to discontinue life support. At the 11th hour he extended that to Jan. 7.

Jahi's family has also gone to federal court to try to force Children's Hospital to insert feeding and breathing tubes and to keep her on a ventilator. Hearings were being held Friday in San Francisco and Oakland.

Thursday, a federal judge ordered settlement talks that would be overseen by a U.S. magistrate.

Hospital attorney Douglas Straus addressed reporters after the hearing, saying, "Moral questions have a million answers."

"Personally it's horrible that this child has died. It's also horrible that it's so difficult for her family to accept it," he said, according to KTVU-TV. "And I constantly think that wouldn't it be great if they were able to come to terms with it. It's a terrible tragedy for them."


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