Jahi McMath, teen declared brain dead three years ago, may still be alive: Judge

More than three years after being pronounced brain dead, a California judge ruled Tuesday that Jahi McMath may technically still be alive, as reported by NJ.com.

The Associated Press reports that Alameda County Judge Stephen Pulido’s ruling would allow a jury to award more money in McMath’s malpractice lawsuit. The girl’s family accused the Children’s Hospital in Oakland of conducting a botched tonsillectomy on the then-13-year-old girl in December 2013. Her family also wants the hospital to pay for the teen’s future care.

McMath, who went into cardiac arrest, has been on life support since the procedure. In July 2014, an Alameda County coroner signed a death certificate for McMath, making way for a judge to allow doctors to take her off life support. The ruling led Latasha Spears Winkfield to take her daughter to New Jersey. New Jersey is the only state in the country that requires hospitals to accommodate religions that don’t recognize brain death.

McMath is on life support and receiving care at a New Jersey apartment. Records showed that New Jersey Medicaid and financial contributions are currently covering the teen’s care.

Though Winkfield believes her daughter has suffered severe and irreparable brain damage, her Christian beliefs compel her to keep fighting for McMath to stay on life support, according to CBS San Francisco.

Court documents from July, which can be read in full below, include testimony from retired neurologist Dr. Alan Shewmon. Dr. Shewmon determined that videos from 2014 to 2016 proved that McMath isn’t brain dead but in a “minimally responsive state.” In the past, Winkfield publicized videos of her daughter’s fingers twitching and responding to noxious smells.

Another doctor who examines McMath every three months revealed that she has reached puberty and started menstruating at age 15. Experiencing puberty indicates that the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that regulates hormones, is functioning, according to NJ.com.

Dr. Shewmon noted that the girl’s body hasn’t deteriorated, which is typical in brain dead patients.

NJ.com also reported that five medical professionals signed affidavits saying that McMath did not meet the criteria for brain death.

Despite their findings, hospital lawyers contend that McMath hasn’t undergone tests approved by the American Medical Association (AMA) that ascertains whether someone is brain dead.

[Featured Image: Facebook/Keep Jahi McMath on Life Support]