April 14, 2015
The family of Jahi McMath, the teen at the center of a controversial case involving the removal of life support, has filed a lawsuit against a California medical facility over serious brain damage she suffered during surgery on Dec. 9, 2013. She was later declared brain dead at the same hospital and eventually transported to a care facility in Franklin Township, New Jersey.
The lawsuit includes claims that the family was pressured to donate her organs by the pediatric chief in an emotional confrontation at the facility. The teen underwent surgery for sleep apnea but suffered oxygen deprivation and serious blood loss before her heart stopped beating, resulting in significant brain damage. The family said they were given misleading information on how to care for her. They claimed medical negligence and serious emotional distress and have requested unspecified compensation. The hospital expressed their sympathy but did not comment on the pending case.
Reported Failures of the Medical Team
The family attorney reported that the hospital showed blatant disregard for the family after the hospital recommended the involved surgery despite the many risks to Jahi. Most doctors suggest a CPAP machine, a less-invasive option, before they proceed with surgery. If the CPAP machine is not effective, the surgeon might have removed her tonsils and adenoids, a less risky procedure, in an effort to address her sleep apnea. The lawyer further elaborated that the nurses did not offer clear explanations about the incident and were not empathetic toward the family.
Increased Medical Risk Leading to Death
During the operation, the surgeon found a medialized carotid, which seriously increased her risk for excessive bleeding. However, this risk reportedly was not communicated to the medical team that provided follow-up care for the 13-year-old. She began coughing up blood, but nurses did not report concerns to her parents, and she subsequently lost so much blood that her heart stopped beating. Doctors then unsuccessfully worked to revive her. Although she was declared brain dead and a death certificate was released, the family lawyer has contradicting documents from four other doctors who state that the teen is not brain dead.
Jahi was eventually relocated to a facility in New Jersey with similar patients there. The family wants the death certificate in California retracted so that they can return home. If the state will not comply, the family plans to file a lawsuit to secure her return.
A GoFundMe page has been setup to help pay for medical expenses.
Medical professionals do not always agree regarding declaring someone brain dead, which causes involved legal issues. A personal injury attorney can help clients navigate through these complex matters and protect the rights of the family. Call our firm for help today!