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After Judge’s Ruling, Calif. Teen Declared Brain Dead Could Be Headed To N.Y. Facility

Jahi McMath (credit: CBS 2)

Jahi McMath (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A California judge has ordered that a teenage girl who has been declared brain dead be kept on life support through Jan. 7, and her uncle says a licensed  facility in New York has agreed to accept her.

Jahi McMath, 13, had her tonsils removed at Children’s Hospital of Oakland in California on Dec. 9 as part of an operation to correct sleep apnea.

But Jahi had complications and went into cardiac arrest. She was declared brain dead three days later.

Since then, life-support machines have kept her breathing, but a hospital spokesperson said they aren’t keeping her alive.

“Two weeks ago, she was pronounced dead at this hospital; she was brain dead,” spokesperson Sam Singer said. “An independent physician came in and determined, again, that she was brain dead. There was no question of that.”

Previously, a judge temporarily blocked the hospital from taking Jahi off life support, but after an independent review of the case, the hospital was given the legal go-ahead to remove the machines.

Before the judge’s latest decision in the case, doctors had planned on removing Jahi from life support at 5 p.m. Monday unless another facility agreed to take her in. Several in California had already refused.

Singer said the hospital will comply with the judge’s new order.

Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, said she wept when she heard about the ruling.  She said the delay was an answer to her prayers and a sign that she was right to keep fighting.

“My daughter is breathing,” she said. “She moves when I go in there and touch her. She moves her whole body — her legs, her shoulders. How can you possibly say that my child is dead and she responds to my voice?”

The family’s court filings said the New Beginnings Community Center in Medford, Long Island, is willing to take Jahi and provide 24-hour medical care. The facility’s management could not be reached for comment Monday night.

Arrangements also have been made, according to the documents, with an air ambulance company for a doctor to accompany Jahi on a private jet from Oakland to Long Island for $27,950. By Monday night, the family’s fundraising website had raised more than $27,000 for a possible transfer.

Sealey said Children’s Hospital has not agreed to facilitate the transfer, but he did not provide a reason.

Singer said the hospital has not been notified by the family or their attorney about a facility willing to take Jahi.

The family’s lawyer, Christopher Dolan, said in a phone interview that he has also been in talks with a facility in Arizona because the family would like to keep Jahi as close as possible.

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