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Longevity

Girl declared brain dead after tonsil surgery will be taken off life support

This photo shows 13-year-old Jahi McMath, who will be kept on life support indefinitely despite being declared legally brain dead by officials at a California hospital (KTVU/E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts)

A 13-year-old Northern California girl will be taken off life support Tuesday after she was declared brain dead following complications from surgery to remove her tonsils. 

KTVU-TV reported Monday that the head of the pediatrics department at Children's Hospital Oakland had told the family of Jahi McMath that the girl would be pulled from life support because she had been declared dead under California law. 

"We didn't want her to be removed from life support, but the decision is out of our hands, because it's been declared a legal death," Omari Sealey, McMath’s uncle, told the station. 

Under California law, legal brain death must be declared by two separate doctors performing two separate sets of tests at least 3 hours apart.  

McMath had gone to Children's Hospital Oakland on December 9 to have her tonsils removed to cure a sleep apnea problem. Sealey told KTVU that McMath had trouble breathing and suffered "an enormous amount of bleeding" after the procedure. Then, on Thursday, McMath went into cardiac arrest, and was declared brain dead. 

The chief of the hospital's pediatrics department, Dr. David Durand, issued a statement saying that the hospital was reviewing McMath's case "very closely."

"Our hearts go out to her family, and we want to support them during this extremely difficult time," Durand's statement continued, before adding that the hospital cannot disclose any details about the case, citing the McMath family's wishes. 

Sealey told KTVU that Jahi McMath did not want to undergo the tonsillectomy procedure and even told her mother before she went under that "something bad is going to happen to me."

"Something terrible went wrong," Sealey said. "We hope the hospital's investigation is conducted fairly and we get some answers."

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