Family of Brain-Dead Teen Given Until Jan. 7

A judge has given the family of Jahi McMath until Jan. 7 to find a place that will take the 13-year-old, who has been brain-dead since tonsil surgery. 

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Jahi McMath's mother, Nailah Winkfield (center), and her uncle, Omari Sealey, moments after learning the most recent news about the teen's care

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The doctors at Children's Hospital Oakland had cleared the family out of Jahi McMath's hospital room on Monday evening. The time to take the brain-dead teen off the ventilator was approaching.

Then the phone rang, and a prayer was answered for the family, who have been desperately looking for another hospital to care for the 13-year-old.

Jahi's family has been at the center of a fight over the end of life. According to Children's Hospital, Jahi's life ended when doctors declared the teen brain-dead, after what was supposed to be a routine tonsillectomy took a drastic turn earlier this month.

For Nailah Winkfield, Jahi's mother, as long as her daughter's heart still beats, there is a chance that her daughter will wake up. The fight for Jahi's family is to get the court and the hospital to allow enough time for a miracle to happen. 

The court had given the hospital clearance to take the teen off life support after 5:00 p.m. Monday evening, but in a more recent ruling, a judge ruled that she should stay on a ventilator for another week.

The family now has until Jan. 7 to find a place that is willing to take Jahi, the Associated Press reports.

One of the major problems hindering Jahi's transfer is that she will need surgery to insert a feeding tube and a tracheotomy for breathing before she can be moved. Children's Hospital has said that it's unethical to operate on a person who is legally dead, AP reports.

The family's lawyer, Christopher Dolan, has filed suit in federal court asking that the hospital perform the surgeries needed for Jahi's transport.

"The stakes are so high when you hold somebody's life in your hands," he said. "And when someone's mother says to you, 'Please don't let them kill my baby,' you do everything that you can. There's nothing that can prepare you for this," Dolan told AP.

Earlier Monday, Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, who is also the family's spokesman, told AP that the family planned on getting a restraining order against the hospital and would sue to keep her alive. Sealey said the family has video of Jahi responding when her mother touches her and talks to her. The video has not been released, but Sealey also said a pediatrician examined Jahi and said she was not dead.

Jahi's uncle said that they had found a facility in New York that was willing to take the teen and arrangements had been made to have a doctor accompany her.

The family has collected more than $25,000 to aide with the transfer, according to the family's fundraising website.

Sam Singer, a spokesman at Children's Hospital, reiterated the position of its doctors.

"This is one of the most tragic situations imaginable," he said. "A family has lost their young daughter. But unfortunately, Jahi is deceased. No amount of hope, prayer or medical procedures will bring her back."

Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield, said she cried when she heard that the judge was going to give her more time. She told AP that she hugged relatives and that she believed her prayers had been heard. She said that the court allowing more time for a miracle is a sign that her fight is not in vain.

"Who wants to know the date and the time their child would die?" Winkfield told AP. "I don't care what anyone has to say about what I'm doing ... I have to do what is right for me and for Jahi."

Read more at Associated Press.

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