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Family sues surgeon for leaving teen daughter ‘brain dead’

Our readers probably recall the sad story of Jahi McMath, the teen California girl who was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery late in 2013. In an update, her family has sued the surgeon who operated on the girl for medical malpractice. The family says the physician should not have performed the operation due to an anatomical condition the girl had.

The surgeon ordered a tonsillectomy for McMath, who was suffering from sleep apnea. He performed the operation at a hospital in Oakland in December 2013, but the girl suffered hemorrhaging after surgery. She has been on a ventilator ever since.

The case received national attention over a dispute over whether the girl is still alive. The Alameda County coroner ruled her brain dead and issued a death certificate, but her family believes that her brain shows signs of function and tried to get the death certificate revoked last year.

In its malpractice suit, the family accuses the surgeon of missing an anatomical abnormality that raised McMath’s risk of hemorrhaging during the tonsillectomy. The family says this shows less that reasonable care on the surgeon’s part. The suit also names other doctors and nurses at the hospital for allegedly failing to take proper action when McMath began coughing up blood.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are frequently highly emotional, because they involve someone who allegedly suffered serious disability or death at the hands of an incompetent or malevolent medical professional.