A Northern California judge will decide whether to revoke the death certificate of a teenage girl who a coroner declared dead more than three years ago, NBC Bay Area reports.
Doctors declared 13-year-old Jahi McMath brain dead in December 2013 after a routine tonsillectomy at Children’s Hospital in Oakland. But retired neurologist Dr. Alan Shewmon says 49 videos, recorded by the girl’s family from 2014 to 2016, show that she’s still alive though on life support, the report says.
“At the time the videos were made, Jahi was in a responsive state, capable of understanding a verbal command and barely capable of executing a simple motor response,” said Shewmon, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The family believes the videos and backing of Shewmon, who has been a longtime critic of how brain death is defined, can convince a judge to overturn the death certificate.
Attorneys representing the Oakland hospital and doctors argue that McMath’ was properly declared dead, saying the family’s position is “not supported by the law, logic or medicine,” the Chronicle notes.
Nailah Winkfield, McMath’s mother who moved her to a New Jersey in 2014, believes having the death certificate overturned will support a wrongful-injury lawsuit against the Oakland hospital. She sued the hospital, state and Alameda County officials in December 2015 for alleged medical malpractice.
The judge, who heard arguments July 13 in the case which rehashes debates over parents’ rights to choose children’s medical treatment, may reverse the certificate to allow McMath to get medical care in California. Her family could win millions in damages.
The case is unlikely to go to court before next year, the Chronicle reports.