Lawyer Pens Op-ed In Defense of Jahi McMath’s Family

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 01/21/2014 | 03:00 PM EST

Christopher Dolan reveals McMath’s family believes doctors were responsible for teen’s 'brain death'

After critics and commentators called out the family of Jahi McMath for refusing to accept that she is brain dead (which was determined by doctors), family attorney Christopher Dolan penned an article in the Los Angeles Times to defend them.


“Despite the incendiary, hateful public rhetoric that has surrounded this case, I believe that self-interest alone should lead most Americans to thank Nailah Winkfield, Jahi's anguished mother, for her courage,” Dolan wrote. “It has been amazing to see how many people think they have a right to an opinion about this child, this mother, this family and the issues in this case.”


“For the most part, those who have attacked Jahi's family argue these simplistic, uninformed points: The family is either stupid, misled by their lawyer or trying to exploit the system. Why can't they simply accept the doctors' decrees? Why should they be different?” he adds.


In a surprising revelation, Dolan says that McMath’s family actually holds doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Oakland responsible for whatever went wrong early December when Jahi’s tonsillectomy turned into a nightmare that eventually led to her being declared brain dead.


“[sic] if you were Jahi's mother, would you want the doctors and hospital authorities you believed had contributed to — or even caused — your child to be declared "brain dead" making final decisions about her?” he writes.


Dolan goes on to describing what Winkfield had endured over the past couple of months since her daughter went into cardiac arrest, such as having to go to the County Registrar of Births and Death to get a death certificate in order to have Jahi relocated, despite the fact that her heart was still beating while attached to a ventilator.


According to Dolan, however, not every state in the country determines “brain death” as a sufficient declaration of of death. In New York and New Jersey, for instance, there is facility accommodation for those who do not accept "brain death" as the appropriate criterion, which would explain why previous news reports suggested that Jahi’s family would transport her to a location in New York.


The lawyer also argued that the McMath family have constitutional rights, such as the first Amendment to freedom of expression of religion, and the 4th and 14th amendments to privacy and personal liberty.


“If any among her critics share her faith, how could they call her ignorant or ridiculous for actually believing in the power and mercy of God? If they would have made a different decision, then right-on, they are Americans and they get to make their own choice,” he writes.


“Jahi McMath's family are brave, loving, honorable hardworking people. They are not fools. They know the odds. They want time, free from the threats of the hospital to pull the plug. They want Jahi to be somewhere where people care for her and do not call her ‘the body.’ Trust me, they will happily disappear from the public spotlight — if you will let them."

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