The family of the 13-year-old California girl — whose tonsil operation went horribly wrong and is now brain dead — should be able to decide whether she is taken off life support, not the hospital, attorney and legal analyst Kendall Coffey says.
"I can't give you a legal answer. I just have to tell you my sympathies are with the parents on this one," Coffey told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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Doctors at Children's Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, Calif., declared
Jahi McMath brain dead three days after she had routine surgery to remove her tonsils.
The family says the hospital wants to pull the plug on the life support keeping the girl alive and is pressuring them to sign a document allowing that.
"I don't want her off life support because I really feel like she can wake up," her mother Nailah Winkfield told CNN's Piers Morgan. "I feel like it's just been a rough week for her and, if they just give her some more time, then she'll be able to wake up."
Coffey, a founding member of Coffey Burlington in Miami, said rules governing life support decisions are decided state by state.
"In some states, the hospital and the doctors are basically pronouncing the patient dead, then that's a medical judgment and the family would have to go to court to prevent the complete withdrawal from life support," he said.
"Your heart has to go out to the parents. It seemed to be routine a surgical procedure … and [then] the doctors are telling you your 13-year-old is in their opinion, dead."
"If something like this happens so recently, it's hard not to sympathize with the parents … When bodies go into shock . . . they'll tell you that there can be a recovery. Not six months later, but a relatively brief cure period of time, maybe days or weeks, where patients can bounce back from what appears to be a coma.''
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