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California hospital says it will keep teen declared brain dead on 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)

Officials at an Oakland, Calif. hospital have said that they will keep a 13-year-old girl declared legally brain dead on life support indefinitely after protests from the girl's family. 

KTVU reported that the parents of Jahi McMath were preparing to file a request for a cease-and-desist order Tuesday after officials at Children's Hospital Oakland had said they planned to remove the teen from life support the day before. 

McMath went into cardiac arrest Thursday after having trouble breathing and suffering severe bleeding due to complications from a December 9 tonsillectomy. The procedure was supposed to cure a sleep apnea problem. 

Medical staff at the hospital tell KTVU that McMath's heart is beating and she is being kept alive by a ventilator, but she has been declared legally brain dead. Medical ethicists told the station on Tuesday that brain death means "legally dead," and no one is required to keep a dead body on a ventilator.

American Academy of Neurology guidelines require only one bedside exam to determine whether or not a patient is brain dead. Under California law, declaring a patient brain dead requires two separate sets of tests by two different doctors, carried out at least 3 hours apart. 

However, McMath's family has vowed that they will go to court to try and get an injunction if the hospital tries to remove Jahi from the ventilator and her feeding tube. 

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