Fight for ‘Brain Dead’ Girl in Federal Court

The family of a 13-year-old Oakland girl, who was pronounced “brain dead” after complications in a routine tonsillectomy, has asked a federal court to step into the fight to keep her on a ventilator while the family seeks a long-term care facility.

The mother of Jahi McMath went to federal court in Oakland Monday seeking a restraining order against Children’s Hospital in Oakland to prevent removal of her ventilator and asking that a feeding tube be inserted.

Earlier, a state judge in Alameda County extended the order keeping Jahi on a breathing machine until 5pm January 7.  But the judge refused to order insertion of a gastric tube for feedingor a tracheostomy tube.  A state appeals court also gave a 24-hour stay, declaring the child must remain on a ventilator until 5p.m. Tuesday, so the court can hear the family’s case.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken denied the request of the girl’s mother, Latasha Winkfield, for the gastric tube and tracheostomy tube.  Wilken deferred an action on maintaining the status quo of treatment, while the state court’s order is in place.

Instead, Wilken ordered both sides to provide briefs on the issue by January 3, with the family allowed to file a reply to the hospital by January 6.

The hospital has said Jahi has been dead since a diagnosis of brain death on December 12.  She suffered complications, including bleeding, follow the routine removal of her tonsils.

The family has asked for time to find a long-term facility to keep her.  The hospital has said that she is brain dead and only being kept alive through use of machines.

Case: Winkfield v. Children’s Hospital, No. C13-5993SBA


One comment

  1. As a lawyer, I obviously have an opinion. As a parent of a little girl, this story hits me in the gut. I cannot imagine how I would react in this situation. Thanks for sharing.


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