Jahi McMath's Family Still Trying to Revoke Death Certificate

She was declared brain dead 3 years ago
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 24, 2017 6:13 PM CDT
Jahi McMath's Family Still Fighting to Revoke Death Certificate
A recent photo of Jahi McMath is shown on a video screen next to her uncle Timothy Whisenton at a news conference in San Francisco, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

More than three years after a coroner declared a teenage girl dead, a Northern California judge is expected to soon decide whether to revoke her death certificate, the AP reports. In court documents filed last month supporting the family's lawsuit to have the death certificate revoked, retired neurologist Dr. Alan Shewmon said videos recorded by Jahi McMath's family from 2014 to 2016 show the teen is still alive. Shewmon is a longtime critic of how brain death is defined and has filed similar court papers supporting efforts by McMath's family to undo the death certificate. The family has previously shown video clips of McMath twitching her fingers, which they said showed she still has brain function. Several doctors, including two hired by an Alameda County court, have said brain-dead patients can still twitch and move slightly.

Doctors at Children's Hospital in Oakland, California declared 13-yaer-old McMath brain dead in December 2013 after a routine tonsillectomy went awry. Jahi's mother has previously acknowledged that her daughter's brain is severely and irreparably damaged. But Latasha Spears Winkfield said her daughter is still alive and her Christian belief compels her fight to keep her daughter on life support. Hospital lawyer Jennifer Still said in an interview Monday that the family has not subjected McMath to tests accepted by the American Medical Association to determine whether someone is brain dead. Jahi's family moved her to New Jersey because of that state's only-in-the US law that prohibits doctors from removing brain-dead patients from ventilators over families with religious objections. A judge heard arguments on the case July 13 and is expected to rule in the next two months whether to allow the lawsuit to proceed. (More Jahi McMath stories.)

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