The Terri Schiavo Foundation is helping the family of Jahi McMath
, a 13-year-old California girl who is brain dead and is kept alive with a ventilator
, even though she has already been declared dead by two physicians.
"Together with our team of experts, Terri's Network believes Jahi's case is representative of a very deep problem within the U.S. healthcare system — particularly those issues surrounding the deaths of patients within the confines of hospital corporations, which have a vested financial interest in discontinuing life," the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network said in a prepared statement.
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Teresa Marie "Terri" Schiavo died in 2005, two weeks after she was disconnected from a feeding tube that had kept her alive for years. She suffered significant brain damage from a lack of oxygen, which resulted in her going into a coma. She was 41 years old.
The Schiavo case sparked a national debate in the '90s over an individual’s right to life once doctors determine they are in a persistent vegetative state.
The Schiavo organization, which is run largely by the deceased woman’s family, said that it is working with several other organizations to ensure the 13-year-old’s transfer from Children's Hospital Oakland "to a safe place," CNN reported
On Tuesday, Jahi's family told reporters that they had found a facility in New York that is willing to take her. According to the 13-year-old’s uncle Omari Sealey, the Oakland hospital "refused to agree to allow us to proceed in that matter."
The hospital denied the uncle’s accusation.
"We have done everything to assist the family of Jahi McMath in their quest to take the deceased body of their daughter to another medical facility," hospital spokesman Sam Singer said, CNN reported.
"To date, they have been unwilling or unable to provide a physician to perform the procedures necessary, transportation, or a facility that would accept a dead person on a ventilator. Our hearts and thoughts go out to them in this tragic situation, but the statements being made by their attorney and some family members are misleading and untrue."
McMath was declared brain dead after complications from a routine tonsillectomy on Dec. 12.
The young girl’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, has passionately argued that her daughter is not dead; her heart is still beating. The family’s attorney, Christopher Dolan, has alleged that the Oakland hospital is "hell bent" on ending McMath's life.
Earlier this week, a judge extended Jahi's life support
an hour before a federal court order keeping the hospital from unhooking her was set to expire. The deadline was extended to Jan. 7.
On Wednesday, Dolan said that he and the McMath family are fighting for a tracheostomy for the 13-year-old that would enable her to be transferred to the New York facility.
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"If Children's Hospital Oakland would perform the procedure we could quickly move Jahi to a facility that provides innovative world-class treatments, of the type being given to Prime Minister Sharon in Israel," Dolan said, adding that "many surgeons and hospital administrators are on holiday making our goal difficult to reach."
Last week, the Children's Hospital of Oakland declared that it "does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice," ABC News reported
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