Jahi McMath's Family: She's Moving On Command, Not Brain Dead

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The 13-year-old's family attorney says she is responding to verbal commands.

Jahi McMath’s family attorney says doctors have found signs of movement from the California teen who was declared brain-dead nearly a year ago, reports The Associated Press.

Attorney Christopher Dolan says doctors have found signs of brain function after running a series of tests on McMath at Rutgers University last week. The discovery, which was made by doctors from the nonprofit International Brain Research Foundation, comes months after the McMath family's long battle with doctors in California to keep the 13-year-old on life support. (Read about the McMath family's account as reported in the July 2014 issue of ESSENCE.)

According to Philip DeFina, the chief executive and chief scientific officer of the International Brain Research Foundation, the teen has responded to many of their commands. Last Thursday, family Dolan even shared clips of her twitching her foot and hand at her mother's command. As a result, the McMath family is expected to submit an unprecedented court order asking for Jahi to be declared alive and her death certificate to be reversed.

"There's a difference between being brain-damaged and between being brain-dead," Dolan told AP.

Lawyers for the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital—where the teen went into cardiac arrest following her tonsil surgery—are not as convinced by the new test results and say the evidence still does not prove that she is not legally dead.

"This is a sad situation where the court made the correct determination that Jahi McMath was dead," hospital attorney Douglas Strauss stated in court papers. "There is no factual basis or legal justification for requiring those involved to endure re-litigation of that properly reached determination."

McMath went into cardiac arrest at the hospital last December shortly after undergoing a tonsillectomy to treat her sleep apnea.

The court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 9.

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