Acting with a court order, the family of a 13-year-old California girl declared brain dead after a tonsillectomy has had her taken from a California hospital to be cared for elsewhere, the family's attorney says. Christie Smith reports.
After more than three weeks of a public, contentious battle between the family of a brain dead girl and a well-respected hospital in Oakland, the family of Jahi McMath is expressing their thanks to all those who helped move the 13-year-old girl to a new facility.
"Yes, Jahi, has officially left Children's Hospital Oakland!!!! We did it!!!" Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, tweeted on Sunday night, hours after his niece was transferred out of the hospital to an unnamed long-term care center. "Thank you to everyone who prayed for us & stood in our corner, we love you all!!!"
On Monday morning, Sealey told NBC New York that Jahi was taken by a private ambulance somewhere, and wouldn't confirm or deny that she was flown anywhere. He said he "stayed behind" but that Jahi's mother was at her daughter's side. He told NBC Bay Area that Jahi was moved to a "Catholic facility."
Still, Jahi is in "very bad shape," family attorney Chris Dolan told reporters. "She has some serious problems that compromised her health. She was in worse shape that we thought because of the lack of nutrition." Dolan added that Jahi was being given potassium, antibiotics and other nutrients.
Dolan had previously said that New Beginnings Community Center, an outpatient clinic in New York that treats people with traumatic brain injures, expressed willingness to care for Jahi, Sealy gave no indication what coast his niece was on Monday.
Earlier on Sunday, Sealey - who has been holding press conferences daily since Jahi was declared brain dead on Dec. 12 after three simultaneous tonsillectomy-related surgeries to cure her sleep apnea - also took some credit for her move: "I told you we'd do it!!! I love you Jahi and I will come visit you soon baby girl," he tweeted. "Your Uncle is a BEAST!!!"
Jahi's family said the girl was moved from the hospital about 8 p.m. Sunday with funds raised online. On that site, Jahi's mother, Latasha Nailah Winkfield, also thanked everyone for their "financial donations and prayers." As of Monday morning, the total raised was nearly $50,000. Court documents stated the price to fly Jahi from the hospital to Long Island would be $27,000.
How the family is paying for any longterm care facility has not been made clear.
Still, despite the thanks and the donations flowing in, there were plenty of critics out there, too.
On the Facebook site of New Beginnings Community Center in Medford, NY, several people lashed out at Jahi's family for refusing to accept that their daughter is dead. New Beginnings did not respond to questions Monday morning seeking to clarify whether Jahi had been flown to Long Island. But on Facebook site of center co-founder, Allyson Scerri, the words "PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED" were posted just after midnight, with a link to an article about Jahi.
Some took to Facebook to take aim at Scerri - a former hair stylist - for offering to care for Jahi despite the fact that the center is set up to take care of people with traumatic brain injury, not people who have been declared brain dead. "No credibility whatsoever," one Facebook poster wrote. "This place is trying to cash in on a public news story."
It's precisely because of this criticism - and even threats - that the family's attorney, Chris Dolan, would not say what facility Jahi was moved to, even in court documents, New Beginnings was the only center that formally stated its intent and willingness to care for her.
In that light, Dolan on Sunday night asked for privacy for the caregivers because the issue has raised such strong emotions.
"It's brought out the best in people and the worst in people," he said. "We've had people make threats from around the country. It's sad people act that way, so for Jahi's safety and for those around her, we will not be saying where she went or where she is."