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Judge orders hospital to keep 13-year-old on life support

Dec. 20, 2013 at 11 p.m.


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - A judge on Friday ordered a California hospital to keep a girl declared brain dead on life support following what was supposed to be a routine tonsillectomy.

The ruling by Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo came as both sides in the case agreed to get together and chose a neurologist to further examine 13-year-old Jahi McMath and determine her condition. The judge scheduled a hearing Monday to appoint a physician.

The girl's family sought the court order to keep Jahi on a ventilator while another opinion is sought. They left the courtroom without commenting.

The family says doctors at Children's Hospital Oakland wanted to disconnect life support after Jahi was declared brain dead on Dec. 12.

After her daughter underwent a supposedly routine tonsillectomy and was moved to a recovery room, Nailah Winkfield began to fear something was going horribly wrong.

Jahi was sitting up in bed, her hospital gown bloody, and holding a pink cup full of blood.

"Is this normal?" Winkfield repeatedly asked nurses.

With her family and hospital staff trying to help and comfort her, Jahi kept bleeding profusely for the next few hours then went into cardiac arrest, her mother said.

Hospital officials said they couldn't discuss the case because the family hasn't given them permission to do so.

In a statement late Thursday, Dr. David Durand, the hospital's pediatrics chief, wrote of Jahi's case: "We are unable - without the family's permission - to talk about the medical procedure, background or any of the details that are a part of this tragedy."

The family said hospital officials told them in a meeting Thursday that they want to take the girl off life support quickly.

"I just looked at the doctor to his face and I told him you better not touch her," Winkfield recalled.

The family filed a request Friday for a temporary restraining order prohibiting the hospital from taking Jahi off life support or any of her other current treatment.

Grillo said he would grant the restraining order in hopes that a resolution could be reached by Christmas to give the family peace of mind.

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