The family of a woman whose husband won a court battle to remove her feeding tube so she would die will assist the family of Jahi McMath, CBS News reports.
13-year-old Jahi McMath was declared brain dead by 6 neurosurgeons and a judge following a routine tonsillectomy on Dec. 9 at Children’s Hospital Oakland in California.
The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network say they will help the McMath family locate a longterm facility willing to warehouse Jahi’s body.
“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,” Terri’s Network said in an emailed statement to CBS News.
The difference between Terri Schiavo and Jahi McMath is Terri was in a “persistent vegetative state,” which means she suffered a severe brain injury but not brain death like Jahi.
Family members say Jahi was alert and talking immediately after the surgery. But she soon began bleeding profusely from the nose and mouth. Jahi went into cardiac arrest (from the sudden blood loss) and her brain cells began to die from lack of oxygen rich blood. Once the brain cells die it is irreversible. Brain cells do not regenerate.
Jahi’s mother has refused to accept the fact that the eighth grader has passed away. The ventilator keeps the corpse warm and gives death the appearance of a living and breathing human being.
The McMaths and their lawyer are locked in a legal battle with the hospital to keep Jahi’s body on a ventilator which pumps oxygen into her lungs and, in turn, keeps her heart pumping.
The hospital maintains that if Jahi is removed from the ventilator, her heart will stop pumping within minutes.
The family cites religious beliefs, parental rights, and the false hope that Jahi will eventually recover.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo initially declared Jahi dead and ordered the removal of the ventilator on Monday, Dec. 30 at 5 p.m. The same judge then pushed the date back to January 7.
Jahi’s mother, Latasha Nailah Winkfield, is accusing the hospital of starving Jahi. The girl has not received nutrition via an intravenous (IV) line or a feeding tube in 3 weeks.
The hospital refuses to create an artificial opening (stoma) in Jahi’s stomach for a feeding tube or to create an opening in her neck (tracheostomy) for a permanent breathing tube attached to the ventilator.
These surgical procedures are required to transfer Jahi to a longterm nursing facility that is willing to warehouse her body.
“Performing medical procedures on the body of a deceased human being is simply not something Children’s Hospital can do or ask its staff to assist in doing,” wrote the hospital’s lawyer Douglas Straus in a letter to Jahi’s family.
Jahi is currently hooked up to the vent via a temporary breathing tube through her nose or mouth. Longterm facilities will not accept a patient (much less a dead patient) with a breathing tube in her nose or mouth.
The only longterm facility willing to accept Jahi’s body is a questionable “outpatient rehab center” in New York that is run by a former hairstylist and her husband, a mortician.
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