Calif. girl's family spending holiday at hospital

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The family of a 13-year-old Northern California girl declared brain dead after suffering complications following a tonsillectomy was trying to give the girl as normal of a Christmas as possible, with a tree and presents in her hospital room, her uncle said.

The family of Jahi McMath will wait until Thursday to discuss a possible appeal of a judge's decision allowing a hospital to remove her from life support, said Omari Sealey, the girl's uncle.

They planned to spend Christmas Day at Children's Hospital Oakland and had set up a Christmas tree in Jahi's room with presents for her and her siblings. The family normally gathers at Jahi's grandmother's house, where they share food and play dominos and cards, Sealey said.

"We're going to discuss our opportunities tomorrow. Today we are going to keep as regular as possible," Sealey said.

"We still got five days for a miracle. We are still hopeful."

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo ruled on Tuesday that the hospital could remove Jahi from the ventilator keeping her body functioning, but gave the family until 5 p.m. on Dec. 30 to file an appeal. Until then, she will stay on life support.

The family has not decided if it will keep fighting.

Jahi's family has said it believes Jahi is still alive, and that the hospital should not remove her from the ventilator without its permission. The teen suffered cardiac arrest after bleeding profusely following her operation this month.

The family has said that as long as the teen is breathing, there is hope of recovery.

Grillo based his decision on the conclusions of two doctors, court-appointed Dr. Paul Fisher of Stanford University and the hospital's Dr. Robin Shanahan.

Fisher examined the girl for several hours on Monday and reported to the judge Tuesday that the teen was brain dead, the same conclusion Shanahan reached.

Grillo said he had no other choice but to allow the hospital to remove the ventilator.

"I wish I could fix it, but I can't," he said.

The hospital had argued that the teen had no chance of recovery since all brain function had ceased.

"Our sincere hope is that the family finds peace and can come to grips with the judge's decision," hospital attorney Doug Strauss said outside court after Grillo's ruling.

The case is now out of Grillo's court and the decision will be up to the California Court of Appeal if the family decides to pursue its legal case to keep Jahi on the ventilator.