A New York facility says it’s ready to care for Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old girl on a ventilator who was declared brain dead by doctors in California after tonsil surgery.
“At this time we’re named as the potential facility that Jahi and her family will be coming to, but we will know more details in a couple of hours, and we’ll certainly be happy to let you know as we know,” said Allyson Scerri, founder of the New Beginnings Community Center in Medford, New York.
On its website, the facility bills itself as an outpatient rehabilitation center for patients with traumatic brain injuries and says it plans to open a long-term care facility. According to her online biography posted on the facility’s website, Scerri worked as a hair stylist for 25 years and founded the facility after her father sustained a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident.
“We are aware of Jahi McMath’s dire situation, and we are willing to open our outpatient facility to provide 24-hour care as an inpatient, long-term facility for Jahi with the required and appropriate medical staff that she depends upon,” Scerri said in a letter included in court documents last week.
Omari Sealey, Jahi’s uncle, declined to comment on Scerri’s remarks to CNN Sunday. He told CNN affiliate KGO Saturday that the family is closer than ever to securing the teen’s relocation.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Sealey said. “We’ve had small victory after small victory, and it’s all leading to the right direction.”
At a court hearing Friday, Jahi’s family and hospital officials agreed on a protocol for the release of the girl to another facility, but didn’t specify where or when she’d be transferred.
By court order, Jahi will stay on a ventilator until 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The teen was declared brain dead on December 12, three days after doctors removed her tonsils, adenoids and extra sinus tissue.
As a fierce court battle unfolded between devastated family members fighting to keep her on the ventilator and doctors arguing she’d already died, the case has drawn national attention and fueled debate.
Doctors and a judge have declared her brain dead and said there’s no chance Jahi will come back to life.
“Overall, unfortunate circumstances in 13-year-old with known, irreversible brain injury and now complete absence of cerebral function and complete absence of brainstem function, child meets all criteria for brain death, by professional societies and state of California,” Dr. Paul Fisher, chief of pediatric neurology at Stanford University, said in a medical report on the case.
Medical ethicists, meanwhile, say the high-profile case fuels a misperception: that “brain death” is somehow not as final as cardiac death, even though, by definition, it is.
But family members have said they’re holding out hope and want to transfer Jahi to another facility.
So far the family has raised more than $47,000 on GoFundMe.com to move her. According to the site, more than 1,300 people have donated money in nine days.
Scerri told CNN Sunday that the girl just needs to be given a chance to recover.
“Her brain needs time to heal. It’s a new injury,” Scerri said. “We believe in life after injury, all of us here at New Beginnings have first-hand experience because we have a loved one that was in the same situation as Jahi.”
On Friday, the Alameda County coroner issued a death certificate for Jahi.
The certificate, which still needed to be accepted by the health department to become official, listed December 12 as her date of death.
Family attorney Christopher Dolan had accused the hospital of being “hell-bent” on ending Jahi’s life. Jahi’s family said last week that the hospital had “refused to agree to allow us to proceed” in transferring Jahi to a New York facility.
The hospital denied the 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’s Martin Savidge, Janet DiGiacomo, Greg Botelho and Elizabeth Landau contributed to this report.