This is now a tale of two girls, Jahi McMath and Rebecca Jiminez. Both have suffered terribly after being treated at Oakland Children's Hospital in California. Jahi is declared to be brain dead and Rebecca is permanently and severely brain damaged.
Jahi is the thirteen year old girl who went into Oakland's Children's Hospital for complicated tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. In the U.S. this surgery is the most common reason for children to go under general anesthesia. Three days after her surgery, Jahi was declared brain dead.
The girl started to bleed out, but for some reason, nurses and doctors did not respond right away to her mother's concerns. Jahi suffered heart failure and was declared brain dead by several doctors.
The girl's mother wanted to keep her on a ventilator and life support for a while longer to be sure her child is dead. Many do not understand that brain dead patients will show plenty of signs of life, including moving when they hear voices they know. It is a horror that few understand unless they are there, especially when doctors coldly want to pull the life support as soon as possible.
A judge ruled that Jahi will be kept on life support and this gave enough time for her to be accepted at New Beginnings Community Center for Traumatic Brain Injury. This is a nonprofit outpatient rehabilitation center in Medford, Long Island. Terri Schiavo, who was on life support for years, was at the same center. Her case sparked a great national discussion about extended life support and quality of life. Her family was the same way, but many called for the patient to be set free.
In Jahi's case, doctors were way too quick and cold about pulling life support, especially since there were clear signs of problems with the medical care. Perhaps keeping the child alive a bit longer will give some clues as to what happened after, or during her surgery.
An air ambulance company and a doctor will accompany Jahi McMath on a private jet from Oakland to Long Island. Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield said,
"Who wants to know the date and the time their child would die?. I don't care what anyone has to say about what I'm doing. ... I have to do what is right for me and for Jahi."
What the media is not very open about is that a second child died under similar circumstances at Oakland Children's Hospital. In 2011, Rebecca Jimenez of Rodeo, CA left the hospital with severe brain damage after undergoing the same surgery. Her surgery was an uncomplicated version. Now she cannot walk, talk or communicate with family.
The Jiminez family settled for $4.4 million after filing a negligence lawsuit. In Rebecca's case, the girl was clearly in pain and slumped over after surgery. The hospital brushed off the mother's concerns, released the girl and made her mother take her home. The hospital postoperative hotline continued to brush off the mother's desperate calls. The mother took the girl back to the emergency room five hours later. A CAT scan revealed severe brain edema and brain damage.
Children's Hospital is over 100 years old and is resting on its laurels, having treated tens of thousands of children with successful outcomes. Still, the hospital's behavior in these two cases indicates that something is clearly wrong.