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'Burning up the phones' to find place for brain-dead girl, family attorney says

Courtesy of McMath Family and Omari Sealey via AP

A photo provided by the McMath family and Omari Sealey shows Jahi McMath.

After about three consecutive weeks of praying, fighting, shouting and weeping over a 13-year-old declared brain dead after a tonsillectomy, things were relatively quiet on New Year's Day regarding the life and death of Jahi McMath.

The family attorney, Chris Dolan, tweeted out that there was not much to report, other than he was "burning up the phones" trying to find a doctor to perform a "tracheostomy in high-profile case is very difficult."

See original report at NBCBayArea.com

His reference to "burning up the phones" means that he is trying to find a longterm care facility who will take Jahi. The owner of a traumatic brain injury center called "New Beginnings" said she would take Jahi, even though the eighth grader was declared dead following a Dec. 9 surgery at Children's Hospital in Oakland to cure her sleep apnea. Dolan had also identified an unnamed center in Arizona he was trying to work with to accept Jahi.


But aside from the question of who will pay for all this, there are several challenges ahead for the family in moving a body that has been declared dead by three doctors and a judge last month. In fact, Jahi's brain has not received oxygen for "well over two weeks," according to the findings of Stanford Dr. Paul Fisher.

But in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland on Dec. 30, Children's Hospital argued that doctors should not have to keep Jahi on a ventilator indefinitely and should not have to provide"nutrition to  or surgical procedures on a "deceased body." A state appeals court on Tuesday refused to order the hospital to insert the tubes, saying the issue has to go first to the lower court judge who has ordered the hospital to keep the girl on a ventilator until Jan. 7 pending the family's appeal. The 1st District Court of Appeal said it would consider the issue at a later date, if necessary.

MORE: Jahi McMath Family Seeks Care at "New Beginnings" Center in Medford, N.Y.

In order to move Jahi, she would need to have tubes placed in her throat and gastric area. The hospital argued in 28 pages of filings that doctors are not violating any patient's rights, because a dead person has no rights to religion, privacy or disability. The hospital also argued that Jahi's mother, Latasha "Nailah" Winkfield has had "ample time" to find another facility "that might accept her deceased daughter's body."

Q&A: Jahi McMath's Brain Death Ignites Difficult Debate

"Life sustaining medical treatments - such as a ventilator - serve no purpose when a patient is dead," the court filings by hospital attorney Douglas C. Straus read. "As tragic as her death is, her mother does not possess a constitutional right to redefine death."

But despite all that's happened, Jahi's mother,  Latasha "Nailah" Winkfield, doesn't accept the fact that her daughter is dead. She described Jahi as "warm." And she insists she moves when she's touched.

"I hate it that they refer to her as 'the body' or the deceased because that’s my child," Winkfield said Tuesday. "They don’t even use her hame. Her name is Jahi Mcmath and they don’t refer to her by name and I feel like that’s so disrespectful. "

Meanwhile, Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, one of the most vocal supporters to keep his neice alive, despite the fact that three doctors and a judge have declared her dead, put out on Instagram that he will definitely have a new perspective on life.

"I have spent Christmas & now NYE in a hospital waiting room," Sealey tweeted out. "Things that use to matter, actually never did and I know that now. I love you Jahi."