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Judge orders life support for 13-year-old girl declared brain dead

Nailah Winkfield, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, cries before a courtroom hearing on Friday in Oakland, Calif. Ben Margot / AP
13-year-old Jahi McMath, who had her tonsils removed on Dec. 9 and was declared brain dead three days later. NBCBayArea.com

A judge has ordered an Oakland hospital to keep a girl declared brain dead on life support following what was supposed to be a routine tonsillectomy.

At a hearing Friday, both sides in the case agreed to get together and choose a neurologist to further examine 13-year-old Jahi McMath and determine her condition. Another hearing was set for Monday.

The family sought the court order to keep Jahi on a ventilator while a second opinion is sought.

The family says doctors at Children's Hospital Oakland wanted to disconnect life support after Jahi was declared brain dead on Dec. 12.

In a statement, the hospital said it could not comment on the case because it had not been granted permission to do so by the family.

The family says the girl kept bleeding profusely after the surgery then went into cardiac arrest.

The battle to keep the teen who was declared brain dead after suffering complications from a tonsillectomy headed to court on Friday, with the girl's family asking a judge to keep her on life support until at least until after Christmas.

Nailah Winkfield, mother of Jahi McMath, cries before a courtroom hearing regarding the girl on Friday in Oakland, Calif. Ben Margot / AP

Court papers released Friday morning showed the family of Jahi McMath is hoping that Children's Hospital in Oakland will keep the eighth-grader on life support, release her medical records and give her a feeding tube. Chris Dolan, the family's attorney, also asked the court to give the family 48-hour notice should doctors decide to take her off of life-support. He filed the court papers on Friday at probate court in Berkeley.

While some of the doctors and nurses have been "very compassionate," the court request says, other staff members at the hospital have treated the family "quite coldly," where they have been told that "if the ventilator is removed, Jahi will die within a minute or two."

Specifically, Jahi's mother, Latasha "Nailah" Winkfield singled out Dr. David Durand, chief of pediatrics, in her court request seeking a temporary restraining order against the hospital. In Winkfield's telling of it, Durand said he would not authorize a feeding tube because Jahi is "dead, dead, dead." 

"He was condescending and almost angry as if I were stupid," she wrote. "I am not stupid. I know my daughter and she is still here."

Related: Bioethicist: Girl's tragic case can't change reality of brain death

For its part, Children's Hospital has been limited in what doctors can say regarding the escalating battle because of state and federal privacy laws.

Late Thursday, Durand released a statement that read, in part: "We want the public to know that the family has not permitted us to discuss the medical situation. We are unable -- without the family’s permission--to talk about the medical procedure, background or any of the details that are a part of this tragedy. Details that would provide transparency, openness and provide answers to the public about this situation."

His statement further added that he would love to be able to correct "misperceptions" but hasn't been able to.

Dolan said Jahi's mother doesn't want to give such authorization because she doesn't want the hospital talking about Jahi's condition to the media before she is told anything.

Despite two EEG tests earlier this week that proved negative, Jahi's family believes the 8th grader can still recover from a Dec. 9 tonsillectomy that led to severe complications. Three days later, she was declared brain dead.

In the court restraining order request, a few new details about Jahi's hospital stay from her family's perspective were disclosed.

Originally, the family was told that Jahi's tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy would be an "in and out procedure."

Sometime after the seemingly uneventful surgery, Jahi was taken to the ICU and Winkfield said she was told the staff had to fix her ICU. About 45 minutes later, Jahi was brought back to her room and was sitting in bed, bleeding from her mouth.

"It was normal," Winkfield said the nursing staff told her.

Winkfield then said she asked for a doctor. Instead, she said she was given a bigger container for Jahi to bleed into, and later, a suction device to suction out the "increasing volume of blood," the court request states.

Jahi's grandmother, Sandra Chatman, who is a nurse elsewhere, made "multiple" requests for a doctor. But Jahi ended up suffering from a heart attack "and fell into a comatose state," the papers state.

Though she was declared "brain dead," her heart beats and her kidneys function, the church-going family states, and "she is not gone from her body."

In an impassioned written plea to the court, Winkfield wrote: "She is alive. I believe in God and that He can heal all. God created Jahi. He can save her. Help me please."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.