COURTESY MCMATH FAMILY AND OMARI SEALEY/AP

COURTESY MCMATH FAMILY AND OMARI SEALEY/AP

Jahi McMath, the adolescent girl who was declared brain-dead following a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, is moving on command, the Associated Press reports.

Last Thursday, as stated by Chris Dolan, the family’s attorney, doctors at the nonprofit International Brain Research Foundation discovered brain function after running a series of tests on the 13-year-old at Rutgers University. Dolan also released videos of McMath moving her foot after her mother Nailah ­Winkfield instructed her to do so.

Philip DeFina, chief executive and chief scientific officer of the International Brain Research Foundation, said McMath has responded to commands several other times. As a result, the family is pushing for a reversal in the court order that determined McMath brain dead.

Lawyers for the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital, where McMath was declared brain-dead, remain adamant the 13-year-old is legally dead.

“This is a sad situation where the court made the correct determination that Jahi McMath was dead,” hospital attorney Douglas Strauss stated in court papers. “There is no factual basis or legal justification for requiring those involved to endure re-litigation of that properly reached determination.”

McMath as well as her parents currently reside in New Jersey, as McMath remains on life support.

The court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 9.

Watch the videos below.

 

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  • tiffanie dfrayton

    We can only hope that this little girl will soon be walking and talking. My heart breaks for this mother. She displays such strength despite these circumstances.

  • What quality of life if that for anyone? Who wants to lay in bed all day, get tube feedings and soil themselves?
    God this and God that…yet interfering with the inevitable by the use of a man made breathing machine and artificial nutrition.
    I’m a God fearing woman and R.N., I see too many families at the bedside keep their loved ones alive for their own reasons, never asking what their loved ones would really want and how they would like to live given this situation. We healthcare workers see nothing but torture and poor quality of life for these patients.
    Spontaneous, non-purposeful movements does not equate to adequate brain function.
    If they want to keep their child alive, by all means do so but don’t burden tax payers to pay for it. Nor assist in anyway.
    People please talk to your loved ones and be clear on your end of life decisions. Don’t place them in a rock in a hard place. Take the legal route if need be and make an advanced directive and power of attorney in case you are unable to make your own decisions.
    I want to know what her EEG shows…

    • noirluv45

      “People please talk to your loved ones and be clear on your end of life decisions.”

      Delia, this is great advice, but let me add, having been deeply involved in this health care “system,” I can tell you that end of life decisions are being made, not by the family or the individual, but by the system, i.e. the ones (non-professionals) in control of health care, not medical care.

      I know this from experience as I watched it for 2 1/2 years while in the hospital with my mom day in and day out (spent the night with her), and I’m watching it now via another family member. My mom was on a ventilator. We, knowing she wasn’t getting better, decided to remove her. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever done, even knowing that her quality of life was no more. I am not going to judge this family’s decision. Having a doctor in my family who goes against the protocol grain where non-doctors are practicing medicine (I thought that was illegal) as it relates to what’s best for her patients, what the patient wants, is often not accepted.

      I think the medical professions will do what they want regardless of advance directives or power of attorneys (which I had both for my mom).

    • @noirluv45 I’m sorry for your experience you had with your mother and commend you on the strength it took to make that decision.

      When it comes to POA’s and advanced directives in my experience, it has always been family members fighting to override the patient’s wishes and often time winning. I haven’t experienced medical providers going against advanced directives. It’s usually medical providers reminding families what their loved ones really wanted. I have seen for peg tubes for artificial nutrition and tracheostomies presented as options for undecided families.

      Please elaborate on the point you made about non-doctors practicing medicine. Are you talking about interns and/or residents and/or physician assistant? Because they are legally practicing medicine under the license of the attending physician.

    • Anthony

      @Kai19xx, in keeping with science, if the girl recovers, one must conclude that the diagnosis of brain death was wrong. If that is the case, in the eyes of the parents, it is a miracle, even if it can be explained medically,

    • noirluv45

      @ Delia, thank you. It was a battle…a excruciating battle. You would not believe what we’ve seen, what they did, and how my mother was treated physically and mentally. Girl, I could write a huge volume on the insights I’ve learned.

      When I mentioned “non-professionals,” I meant those who are not physicians making decisions such as what medicines to give/not give. Delia, it’s like this protocol that has to be followed that’s a one-size-fits-all standard. For example, they wanted to give my elderly mother huge doses of slow-acting morphine. We had to literally police what they were giving her. My mother would have died with such a high dose, but they would get very angry when we refused medicines. I took care of her for many, many years and I knew more than they did about what she could tolerate, you know. Oftentimes, when a person gets old, doctors/nurses/PA’s/NA’s see “end of life” which means, “do not treat.” I could go into so much, but on won’t on this forum.

      Thank you for your reply, Delia. I better understand what you are talking about.

    • @noriluv45 Thanks for your clarification. Please note that I do not mean to offend you. Given the information you gave as I just want to share my perception.

      Medical professionals know as we age we are at greater risk of dying if we undergo aggressive treatments. It’s not that medical professionals do not treat the elderly, they need to tread lightly as these patients have comorbidities making it hard for the body to rebound and heal. They know what usually happens to elderly people because they are the biggest patient population. Since outcomes of surgeries and other interventions are so poor, medical professionals lean the family towards comfort measures for the patient.

      When it comes to end of life and they are under comfort measures only/CMO, you’re right, we do not treat. We just ensure the patient is comfortable.

      Now I question whether you and your family were properly educated on comfort measures. Or whether education was provided and due to such a high stress situation, information was not received (which I have seen many times working in the intensive care). Did you have meetings with the doctor as well as someone from palliative care? Usually in these meetings topics such as morphine and withdrawing care is explained.

      As I and the nurses you were in contact with have administered morphine, cared for the elderly and dealt with families, I can only say that preventing discomfort for your mother was the goal, not killing her. I was not there so I cannot say too much. Each hospital has their own rules on morphine with end of life whether it’s a protocol or catered to each patient. But I know morphine is the drug to reduce discomfort with end of life as it helps anxiety and breathing. We give doses of morphine to patients who are not dying to help with respiratory distress. As far as ‘high’ doses, I have to know the exact number to validate that. But in any case, I’m sure it must have been scary for you hearing and seeing your mother receiving the doses of morphine, but from my account it was to try to help your mother. That may be the reason many nurses felt frustrated with you and/or your family because it can seem as though you were making her uncomfortable by not giving the medication.

      I see this issue arise often as caretakers like yourself who do know your loved ones well are in conflict with medical professionals who know their practice well. It’s a very sticky situation.

      My question is that since you refused morphine, what did you use or do to help her in the process?

    • tinder

      Agreed on wanting to see EEG results. Do you think the court will permit a court-appointed neurologist to re-test for brain death? Do you think the family will allow a court-appointed doctor to perform an exam? I question the video by the lawyer and the family…its only 53 seconds and who knows how many attempts and calls to Jahi before the movement occurred? The video is contrived coincidence,clipped and cropped and manipulated, after hours, days and now ten months of taking videos, and all they can come up with is less than a minute of video. I’d pay more attention to something legitimate like a medical exam or recent EEG/brain scan that shows activity. No medical exam? No tests results? Hmmm no proof, that means there is still no brain activity. How awful that the family uses deception to ask for money. The lawyer and the family think we are stupid, and that offends me.

    • @tinder, I’m offended as well. With all these comments saying ‘it’s a miracle’ PLEASE, I see brain dead people on a weekly basis, they are able to do those spontaneous movements all the time.

      The court will not order another exam. There is no need, any medical professional can see these clips are insignificant.

      I wish her soul will just be free from being trapped in that body….

    • noirluv45

      @ Delia, Hi. No, you didn’t offend me at all. I appreciate your sharing your perception on this because the current medicine culture is very near and dear to my heart, so I’m enjoying the conversation.

      Regarding your comment on the elderly, I understand that, but I also know they are leaning more and more towards end of life treatment. Instead of diagnosing and treating those things they can do, many medical professionals overlook or refuse to treat. For example, a certain medical plan that I will not name, knew my mom had aeortic stenosis. Instead of doing surgery when she was able to survive it (at least, according to her health at the time), they not only didn’t treat her, but they didn’t even tell her she had it. My friend’s 80+ year old grandmother had the surgery at Cedar-Sinai, so I know they do these types of surgeries on the elderly. As far as hospice patients, like you stated, I can understand comfort care. My dad was in hospice. In some cases, Delia, I feel they often don’t see a reason to pay so much money on procedures and stuff to keep the elderly alive.

      You mentioned whether or not me and my family are property educated on comfort measures. Yes we are. My family member has been a physician for 25 years, and being that my mom was under the care of a geriatrician. We considered my mother for hospice, but she was not ready for hospice; however, my dad was. We’ve sat down with every kind of doctor you can imagine. We stayed with her day in and day out. Trust and believe, we know. In fact, I probably know more than many doctors because I know that not every patient can tolerate the same doses. My mother was one that could not tolerate high doses of morphine, so we told them to lower the dose. That’s how we handled it. In this day and age, patients and family members have to learn as much as possible about medicine. Doctors and nurses need to listen to family members as well.

      Delia, I really do understand that the nurses had the best intentions. They aren’t bad people, and they were doing as the doctor ordered. Trust me, I completely understand that. In fact, Delia, when my mom was removed from the respirator, they gave her morphine. She died peacefully. Yes, it was very scary at the high dose, but it was also scary that they didn’t listen to us. In fact, Delia, I administered morphine for pain control and at home, so I knew first hand what she could/couldn’t handle. Again, I know it wasn’t mean to harm her, but what frustrated us was that they didn’t listen. You treat the patient, not the tests. Protacols don’t work for everyone. You are so right, it is very sticky. Whew! We had our battles. They felt like we were interferring with what they felt was best, and we told them what was best in many ways because we know our mom. Being that my family member is a physician, that helped save my mom’s life. I can imagine the frustrations you guys feel.

    • @noriluv45 Thank you so much for responding. You’re right, this is great dialogue. It’s awesome for me to get the persespective of a patient’s family ,especially during these circumstances.

      One point that you made was that protocols do not work for everyone. This is true. Not every 80 yr old female can handle heart surgery, let alone surgery in general. You don’t know your friend’s grandmother’s health history, you don’t know the extent of her ailment for surgery as well. The extent of your mother’s aortic stenosis could have been a partial blockage or complete blockage. We both are not cardiologists nor cardiothorcic surgeons and we don’t know what or how is best to clear the blockage and know the risks associated with it.

      I’ve had a 70 year old women come in for a routine hip surgery. They did an awesome hip job, but took a sudden turn for the worse no one saw coming because routine surgery stressed her body to the point of no return. Surgery is dangerous for everyone, young, old, healthy or sick. Despite the best preparation, no one ever knows, not even doctors. No one can guarantee survival. Not even you. So cardiac surgery on an 80 year old patient who from what you described, passed not too long after withdrawal from a ventilator would have only shortly prevented the inevitable if she survived it. It has nothing to do with lack of money toward the elderly, the elderly often have multiple cormorbidities and simply are less likely to survive procedures. And if they make it out the OR, they pass from complications due to the surgery.
      Believe me, you wouldn’t have wanted your mother passing in the OR alone or taking a sudden turn for the worse during the night as my patient did. Please take it as a blessing she was with her loving family and was able to pass comfortably. I and many other children did not have that same opportunity to say good bye to their mothers, nor did their mothers have a peaceful passing.

      Whenever you say: ‘non doctors’ and ‘non professionals’, I cringe. These are the doctors of tomorrow who will take care of all of us one day. And I will say it again, they are human and make mistakes at times in a profession dealing with human lives. Unfortunately our healthcare system is not perfect. As a nurse in training, I made mistakes and learned from them. I just ask if the time and/or situation permits, please ask the doctor in your family on their experiences as an intern and resident. I am sure they were in their same shoes to one degree or another.

      I am glad you and your family were educated on comfort measures. And you are right, if you knew how she responded to morphine in the past, it should have been known to the staff and your request should have been acknowledged. Listening to family members is a big push in our field for safety purposes and it is still has not been totally embraced.

      Again, thank you for sharing your experience for a respectful dialogue.

  • Darkness901

    I dont understand why everyone is trying to determine what the mother should do. If she believes her daughter is alive, let her keep her daughter on life support.

    I’m pretty sure I would feel the same if my daughter was on life support. I believe in science but you can’t make people turn off their emotions or beliefs. I feel for the little girl. Hopefully, something good comes from this.

    • The fact that she is actively seeking governmental funding to pay for this. That has crossed the line.

    • Darkness901

      @Delia: I agree with you totally. I don’t want to pay for it. However, if the mother has the funds, then go for it. I’m all for people believing and hoping as long as it doesn’t cause other people problems.

      The lawyers don’t mean well. This is a chance for them to get their name out there. This is turning into publicity nightmare.

    • Kai19xx

      She doesn’t have the funds.

    • @Kai19xx, well that is something that should have been thought of prior to the decision this mother has made for her daughter. How is that an issue for tax payers?
      @Darkness901, I completely agree with your last statement. Don’t forget the Terry Schiavo interest as well.

    • Shaliala

      Jahi is not on life support.

    • noirluv45

      I hate to inform those who are worried about the funds going toward the care of this child, but in live, there are a lot of things we have to pay for that we may not want to support. That’s how the game is played.

      People drive without insurance, get into accidents, and my premiums go up even though I have an excellent driving record. That’s life, so what can we do about it? People live off the system, and we pay for it. What to do about it? Nothing.

    • noirluv45

      Excuse the typos.

    • @noriluv45, and why should we allow this system precipitate? We can stop it from getting worse by preventing instances as such to begin in the first place. But I’m not too worried. I highly doubt the state or federal legal system will not allow lack of acceptance to overrule science and reality.

  • Mia Cooper

    A miracle doesn’t need to be maintained. There’s a difference in having faith and trying to impose YOUR will over what’s God’s will. A true miracle would be to take her off of the machines and allow what’s supposed to happen happen. Those machines are no more than blessing blockers. People in comas and whatnot have body movements because the oxygen being artificially pumped into their body. All of those blankets are too keep her body warm because it’s cold. She could be so much pain and can’t even move. This is selfish. I believe she’s already gone to glory and they’re just holding on to her flesh.