Two crucial hearings today in fight over Jahi McMath

Posted at 6:53 AM, Jan 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-03 08:53:23-05

By Lateef Mungin

(CNN) — Two crucial court hearings were slated for Friday in the ongoing battle over Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl on a ventilator who has been declared dead by doctors.

In state court Friday morning, the California Superior Court judge overseeing the proceedings asked attorneys for the McMath family and Children’s Hospital Oakland to confer among themselves to attempt to settle the issue of whether Jahi will remain at the hospital or be moved.

In federal court, a magistrate will oversee mandatory talks between representatives of the hospital and the family, CNN affiliate KTVU reported.

Meanwhile, a deadline looms. A judge has ruled that Jahi can be cut off a ventilator at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Bleeding profusely

Last month, Jahi had surgery to remove her tonsils, adenoids and extra sinus tissue. Doctors had recommended the surgery to treat pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that made her stop breathing in her sleep and caused other medical problems.

Before the surgery, Jahi was worried that she would never wake up, according to her uncle. She seemed fine after the surgery and asked for a Popsicle because her throat hurt.

It wasn’t long before something went terribly wrong. In the intensive care unit, the girl began bleeding profusely — an image that her mother said would be forever seared in her mind.

According to family members, Jahi went into cardiac arrest. Days later, she was declared brain-dead.

Hospital officials have said privacy laws prevent them from discussing details of the case.

More support

The family of Terri Schiavo has joined the battle recently.

“Together with our team of experts, Terri’s Network believes Jahi’s case is representative of a very deep problem within the U.S. healthcare system — particularly those issues surrounding the deaths of patients within the confines of hospital corporations, which have a vested financial interest in discontinuing life,” the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network said in a statement.

Schiavo was a brain-damaged woman who died in 2005 after living on a feeding tube for more than a decade. She was the subject of a lengthy legal battle between her parents and her husband, Michael Schiavo, who maintained that she wouldn’t have wanted to live in a “persistent vegetative state.”

The organization said it has been overseeing the efforts of several groups to help get Jahi transferred out of Children’s Hospital Oakland and brought “to a safe place.”

Jahi’s family said Tuesday that it had found a facility in New York willing to take her. The Oakland hospital “refused to agree to allow us to proceed in that matter,” Jahi’s uncle Omari Sealey said.

The hospital denied the accusation.

“We have done everything to assist the family of Jahi McMath in their quest to take the deceased body of their daughter to another medical facility,” hospital spokesman Sam Singer said.

“To date, they have been unwilling or unable to provide a physician to perform the procedures necessary, transportation, or a facility that would accept a dead person on a ventilator. Our hearts and thoughts go out to them in this tragic situation, but the statements being made by their attorney and some family members are misleading and untrue.”

Family attorney Christopher Dolan had accused the hospital of being “hell-bent” on ending Jahi’s life.

A judge has declared Jahi brain-dead as well. Doctors say there’s no chance she will come back to life.

Sealey said Wednesday that the family still hopes to move her to another facility.

He accused the hospital of starving his niece by not using a feeding tube to provide her with nutrients.

Singer said a judge had dismissed the family’s request for additional medical procedures Tuesday, including a feeding tube.

CNN’s Chuck Conder and Elizabeth Landau contributed to this report.

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