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Temp Restraining Order Ends for Brain-Dead 13-Year-Old from Oakland

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First Posted: Dec 23, 2013 05:31 AM EST
Jahi McMath
(Photo : Courtesy Jahi McMath Family)

Two weeks to the day since 13-year-old Jahi McMath was admitted into Children's Hospital Oakland for a routine tonsil removal and ended up brain dead a couple of days later, an independent doctor is set to review her case and leaders of the Northern California community are calling for an investigation of the hospital itself.

McMath is on a ventilator and has continued to receive hospital care after her family filed a temporary restraining order keeping hospital officials from pulling the plug on the girl's life support.

An independent physician is expected to evaluate McMath's condition today and present his conclusions to a judge Tuesday, though the temporary restraining order in fact expires today.

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In the meantime, the hospital representative have drawn intense public criticism for callous and insensitive they allegedly made to McMath's family after she was declared brain-dead and family members balked at allowing her to expire.

"Whether he or she be a doctor or administrator, when he says, 'she's dead, dead, dead and we want the court to say no, no no,' it represents a lack of sensitivity," said Rev. Dr. Harold R. Mayberry, Sr. Pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Oakland.

A hospital spokesman denied those those specific words were said, but acknowledged doctors tried to make it clear to McMath's family that she was dead, with no apparent chance of recovery.

"As medical professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that we don't create hope where there is none. When one's brain ceases to function, it never restarts," the chief of pediatrics said in a statement issued Sunday.

On the other hand, "we believe God, that God has the final answer, plug pulled and all, that God will give the final answer to what happens in Jahi's life," said Pastor Cheryl Ward of Cheryl Ward Ministries.

On Sunday night, a group of faith leaders sent a letter to the Alameda County district attorney requesting a formal investigation of the hospital and what happened to McMath.

Church members gathered outside Children's Hospital Sunday, praying that McMath, who doctors say has no chance of waking up, will do the impossible and awaken, perhaps even in time for Christmas.

"It makes me feel better because they believe as I do that God has the final say in what happens to my daughter," McMath's mother, Nailah Winkfield, told the media. "And the doctors don't know everything because if they did, my daughter wouldn't be brain dead right now."

In an open letter released this weekend, Winkfield asserted her daughter responds to her touch and still feels warm. She believes that, given time, God will wake her daughter up.

"And when she does wake up, she's going to shake up a whole lot of people that didn't believe what I believe," Winkfield said. "I swear she will."

The hospital said it is committed to investigating what went wrong with McMath.

McMath's family has organized a march this morning, starting 10 a.m. at the hospital. They are asking those who attend to wear purple, McMath's favorite color.

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