OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The family of a 13-year-old Northern California girl declared brain-dead after having surgery to remove her tonsils is asking a hospital not to take her off life support during the holidays.
Relatives met with senior officials at Oakland Children’s Hospital on Thursday afternoon to ask them to keep Jahi McMath on life support until after Christmas, but they said hospital officials were not receptive to their request.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, said she asked Dr. David Durand, the chief of pediatrics, how soon he planned to disconnect her daughter from the ventilator.
“Quickly” was his response, she said, adding that he showed “absolutely no compassion at all.”
Jahi’s uncle, Omari Sealey, who was also in the meeting, said Durand was “very rude” and “very cold.”
“He pretty much yelled across the table, ‘She is dead, dead, dead, dead, and we don’t treat the dead,'” Sealey told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Hospital officials also have refused to provide Jahi’s medical records, he said, or to allow an independent doctor to provide a second opinion on her condition.
Sealey said Jahi looks “normal,” just “like she is asleep.”
“We’re praying for her to wake up, and I’m definitely going to pray for Dr. Durand,” he said.
The family’s lawyer, Christopher Dolan, told reporters he planned to file for an injunction in Alameda County Superior Court on Friday morning to prevent the hospital from acting without the family’s permission.
In a statement released Thursday night, Durand 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.”
He added: “We implore the family to allow the hospital to openly discuss what has occurred and to give us the necessary legal permission — which it has been withholding — that would bring clarity, and we believe, some measure of closure and deeper understanding of this medical case.”
Melinda Krigel, a hospital spokeswoman, also said the family’s statements had not provided a complete picture.
“We do feel there have been some mischaracterizations of the situation.”
The teenager went into cardiac arrest and died last week after undergoing a tonsillectomy to help with her sleep apnea.
The family served the hospital with a cease-and-desist order Tuesday to prevent her from being taken off life support.
On Thursday night, 13 people were keeping a vigil in the waiting area outside of Jahi’s hospital room, Sealey said, to pray for Jahi — and to keep an eye on medical staff.
“We’re not leaving,” he said.