Jahi McMath in "bad shape" after transfer to new facility

The family of Jahi McMath is hoping the 13-year-old girl will recover now that she's in a new facility getting nutritional support.
January 6, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The 13-year-old Oakland girl, declared brain-dead after complications from tonsil surgery, is now being cared for in a new facility. Jahi McMath's family quietly moved her from Oakland Children's Hospital Sunday night to the undisclosed location.

The family vowed to get Jahi out of the hospital and they did it, but the legal fight over what happened to her at the hospital is likely far from over.

"She looks very peaceful. She looks like she's sleeping and I think I even saw her smile when she left Children's Hospital," said Jahi's uncle Omari Sealey.

Twenty-four days after she was pronounced brain-dead at Oakland's Children's Hospital, Jahi left in the back of an ambulance hooked up to a ventilator. Sealey provided us with cellphone video of her exit.

The family and their attorney had asked that a tracheotomy and nutrition be given to her by Children's. They claim that because the hospital would provide neither, Jahi's body is in bad shape.

"She's being given antibiotics to help combat infections that have been growing while she was laying in the bed. She is being given some nutritional support. She's being given essential supplements such as potassium," said Christopher Dolan, the family attorney.

The 13-year-old was removed at about 8 p.m. Sunday night when a critical care ambulance pulled up to the back of Children's Hospital.

"She's there now actually in her new home, where she's going to be treated like the innocent little girl that she is and not like a deceased body the way Children's Hospital has been treating her," said Sealey.

"She's deceased and unfortunately a body, and this is in our court record in the court statements we filed on Friday, her body is deteriorating and that is a natural course of events when a person is deceased," said Children's Hospital spokesperson Melinda Krigel.

In papers filed in federal court by Children's Hospital, doctors say Jahi's body was unable to regulate temperature and they could not correct or improve the manifestations of "the post-mortem deterioration."

ABC7 News spoke on the telephone with the woman on the East Coast who coordinated Jahi's transfer. Her name is Angela Clemente. She told us over the phone, "She is being treated adequately, the way that she should be. She is also being addressed as she should have been in the very beginning by her name. You know, we're at least giving her an opportunity to see if there can be any improvement."

The owner of a brain injury clinic in New York called New Beginnings say they do not have Jahi now, but left open the possibility she might be transferred there at some point.

Monday night, the girl's family talked about the move and their hopes for her recovery.

Sealey broke down on CNN's "Piers Morgan Live" describing his niece. He said, "She was very shy and she smiled all the time."

Sealey told Morgan the family is holding out hope that she will recover. He said, "We believe that as long as her heart is still pumping she's alive, as long as my niece's heart is beating she's alive."

The hospital released Jahi to the Alameda County coroner, who then released her to her mother's custody. The family attorney says Jahi is now getting nutritional support and antibiotics to fight infections.

"What we always wanted to do was have her mother have the ability to make a choice as to whether or not her daughter would stay on or come off of a ventilator," said Dolan.

The family attorney declined to provide details about the type of facility, citing privacy and security concerns.

ABC7 News reporter Nick Smith contributed to this report.

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