‘Alive?’ Video Says It Shows Teen Declared Brain Dead Moving

Jahi McMath might have moved.

The California teen was declared brain dead in December after complications from a tonsillectomy. While doctors at the Oakland hospital where she was treated through December into the first week of the new year wanted her life support removed, the 13-year-old’s family spurred a nationwide debate as they fought to keep her on it.

Tonsillectomy Brain Dead Girl
This undated file photo provided by the McMath family and Omari Sealey shows Jahi McMath. The family of a 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain dead after a tonsillectomy sued to keep her on life support and won. McMath was moved earlier this month to another facility. (AP/Courtesy of McMath Family and Omari Sealey, File)

Three weeks ago, McMath’s family moved her body to another facility where she would remain on machines keeping her organs functioning as her family hopes she will someday wake up.

This past Sunday, a video titled “Jahi McMath Alive?” was uploaded to YouTube showing what is said to be McMath’s foot move as it was simulated by an ice cube.

“Jahi responds to cold stuff,” an unidentified woman in the video said as she moved an ice cube along the girl’s feet, causing them to jerk upward. “I don’t understand how a brain dead person can do that.”

Watch the 16-second clip:

The Contra Costa Times reported that the video was posted Sunday on a Facebook page supporting McMath and her family, but it was later removed from the page without explanation. It is unclear who uploaded the footage and should be noted that it has not been officially confirmed to be McMath in the video.

Doctors, though, have an explanation for the movement while still maintaining that the person in the video could be brain dead.

Dr. Neal Slatkin, neurologist and chief medical officer at San Jose’s Hospice of the Valley, told the Contra Costa Times that 50 percent of patients declared brain dead could experience spontaneous movement or retain reflex ability.

Slatkin maintained that this movement should not be an indicator that McMath is no longer brain dead.

“She’s brain-dead. She has no thought. She has no ability to control or interact with anything in her environment,” Slatkin told the Times. “She’s completely dependent on machines and forever will be.”

McMath was moved on Jan. 5 to a facility, the name of which was not publicly disclosed, that will provide extended life-support care.

The latest update posted on McMath’s community Facebook page Friday said the week was “full of miracles.”