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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Family Wants Brain-Dead Teen Declared Alive

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Attorneys for the family of a 13-year-old girl declared legally dead 10 months ago claimed this week that she has regained brain activity.

In a petition urging the court to reverse its December 2013 declaring Jahi McMath brain dead, her family's lawyer, Christopher Dolan, says her organs continue to function and that an MRI shows neurological activity. This activity, combined with her response to commands given by her mother and an examining physician as well as the onset of puberty and the start of her menstrual cycle, demonstrates that Jahi's brain death is not irreversible as the court previously found.

"This court, having made such a determination, must consider the change in circumstances presented by plaintiff's evidence which shows Jahi's condition is now one in which Jahi now has brain function," the petition states. "There is simply no case, other than Jahi McMath, where a pediatric patient has been diagnosed as brain dead but has continued to receive medical treatment and survived this long."

In a statement, Dolan said, "This is groundbreaking, and it seems 'mother knew best' all along."

Jahi was pronounced brain dead in December by three doctors - Robert Heidersbach and Robin Shanahan of Children's Hospital Oakland and Paul Graham Fisher of Stanford Hospital - after the child went into cardiac arrest following a routine tonsil operation.

McMath's family fought with Children's Hospital to keep her on life support, and in January they agreed that McMath's mother could remove her from the hospital as long as she assumed responsibility for her care. Judge Evelio Grillo of Alameda Superior Court had ruled that the hospital did not have to keep McMath on a ventilator because she had lost all brain function.

According to a statement by Dolan Law Firm, medical experts "said that Jahi's organs would shut down and her brain would liquefy," but this has yet to happen.

Dolan plans to show video of McMath moving in response to her mother's verbal commands at a press conference scheduled for Friday afternoon. Two medical experts - International Brain Research Foundation CEO Phil Defina, PhD, and neurologist Calixto Machado, will also be on hand to discuss McMath's latest test results.

A Gofundme campaign has so far raised $61,414, ostensibly for McMath's ongoing care.

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