By SYDNEY LUPKIN, ALYSSA NEWCOMB and DEAN SCHABNER
A foundation started on behalf of Terri Schiavo has been secretly helping the McMath family to keep their brain dead daughter on life support following complications of a routine tonsillectomy, the foundation announced Tuesday.
The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network said it has been "working on behalf" of Jahi McMath, 13, in "relative silence."
McMath's family hopes to transfer Jahi to a long-term care facility where she can remain on life support despite Children's Hospital Oakland's assertion that there is no hope for her recovery.
"Every person needs to understand that medical accidents happen every day," Bobby Schindler, executive director with Terri's Network, said in a statement. "Families and individuals must be more aware of the issue of accountability and patient rights."
Schiavo's case sparked a national debate in the 1990s and 2000s, when doctors, lawyers and family members battled for more than a decade over whether to remove Schiavo's feeding tube and let her die.
A judge extended Jahi's life support on Dec. 31, an hour before a federal court order keeping the hospital from unhooking her was set to expire. Jahi now has until Jan. 7.
Christopher Dolan, an attorney for the family, filed complaints in Superior and Federal courts on Monday to stop the hospital from unhooking Jahi when the previous court order expired at 5 p.m. PT Monday.
Also included in the federal complaint was a request that Children's Hospital Oakland perform a tracheotomy and insert a feeding tube, which are necessary procedures before Jahi can be transferred.
Children's Hospital Oakland "does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice," the hospital said in a statement posted on its website last week.
An attorney for the hospital wrote in today's court filing that administrators had not heard from any potential facilities the family reportedly has claimed are willing to take Jahi.
The hospital said any facility that takes Jahi would be accepting a dead body and would have to get a coroner's approval.
The hospital reiterated in a statement that it has continued "to support the family of Jahi McMath in this time of grief and loss over her death."