Brain-Dead Teen’s Family Hoping for a Holiday Miracle

Jahi McMath was declared brain-dead after having surgery to remove her tonsils, and now her family is asking that doctors not take her off life support.

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Jahi McMath

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The family of a 13-year-old girl who was declared brain-dead after having surgery to remove her tonsils is asking that doctors not take her off life support until after the holidays, CBS News reports.

The family's attorney, Christopher Dolan, said Thursday that Jahi McMath's family will meet with officials at Oakland Children's Hospital to make their request, and if the hospital doesn't agree, the family will likely seek an injunction or court order. The hospital was served a cease-and-desist order on Tuesday.

While undergoing a tonsillectomy meant to help with her sleep apnea, McMath went into cardiac arrest. According to news channel KCBS, the girl's family held a prayer vigil Wednesday night, hoping for a miracle.

David Magnus, a professor of pediatrics and the director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, says the hospital is only legally required to give the family a reasonable amount of time to say goodbye and perform any religious rituals. But because the cardiac arrest happened after a tonsillectomy, a relatively simple operation, he tells CBS News that the hospital may be reluctant to go against the family's wishes.

Magnus said that McMath has no brain activity at all and as such has technically passed away.

"When someone’s declared brain-dead, they are actually literally dead," he told CBS News. "What’s really happening is blood has been circulating in the body. Certain biological processes with the cells and the organs are continuing, for a body that is no longer a person. They've already passed away."

Read more at CBS News.

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