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OAKLAND -- Under nightfall on an empty side street Sunday, an ambulance emerged from a secured gate at Children's Hospital Oakland and quietly pulled away. Ambulances come and go from the busy North Oakland facility, but not like this: Inside on a gurney laid Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old girl declared brain dead nearly a month ago and who has remained on a ventilator as her family clashed with the hospital over her fate and continue to cling to hope that one day she may wake up.

It was an eerily quiet end to what has been a public, and oftentimes tense, situation. And it came just days before a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to move Jahi.

Jahi McMath, 13, is brain dead after complications post surgery. (Courtesy of the McMath Family)
Jahi McMath, 13, is brain dead after complications post surgery. (Courtesy of the McMath Family) (Omari Sealey)

Her uncle, Omari Sealey, took to Twitter almost immediately: "I told you we'd do it!!! I love you Jahi and I will come visit you soon baby girl. Your Uncle is a BEAST!!!" Later adding, "Jahi is free. Bye Children's Hospital."

Just before 8 p.m., Jahi could be seen in the back of the ambulance on a gurney wearing what appeared to be an oxygen mask, with a paramedic supervisor vehicle and a car with two uniformed Alameda County Sheriff's Office deputies in tow. The ambulance had arrived hours earlier, and left a side entrance to the hospital, turned left on 52nd Street, then left on Martin Luther King Jr. Way and out of sight.


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It was unclear where it was headed, though a New York facility with ties to the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network has said it will accept Jahi for long-term care and reiterated that in a statement to CNN on Sunday.

David Durand, chief of pediatrics at Children's Hospital, and hospital spokesman Sam Singer each confirmed Jahi was moved.

"A short while ago, the body of Jahi McMath was released by Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland to the coroner," Durand wrote in a statement. "The coroner has released her body to the custody of her mother, Latasha Winkfield, as per court order, for a destination unknown.

"Our hearts go out to the family as they grieve for this sad situation and we wish them closure and peace."

The family's attorney, Christopher Dolan, and Sealey would not provide details on her treatment during a late-night news conference at his San Francisco office, but said Jahi will be hooked up to a feeding tube and a tracheotomy tube by Monday morning. He also refused to identify where Jahi would be taken and said his silence on the matter was to protect Jahi's privacy and the privacy of other patients at the undisclosed facility. Court documents show that the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network has been working to place her in a New York facility, and that Georgia-based Medway Air Ambulance would provide the transportation.

A call to the Life & Hope Network went unanswered Sunday morning. An email to MedWay Air Ambulance president Rick Moore was not answered immediately. Court documents said the approximate cost to transport Jahi was just shy of $32,000; the Jahi McMath page at the gofundme.com website said Tuesday that $47,842 had been raised for Jahi by Sunday morning.

Her mother, Nailah Winkfield, is by her side, as are "highly skilled intensive care" workers, Dolan said.

"This family knows the odds are way stacked against them," Dolan said. "This family knows that they need nothing short of a miracle but what this family wanted was a chance.

"This is about a girl named Jahi McMath. But this is also about every parent being able to have the right to make a choice for their child, not a hospital making that choice for them."

Jahi has been on a ventilator at the hospital since developing complications and suffering cardiac arrest after a three-part surgery to remove her tonsils and clear tissue from her nose and throat at the facility Dec. 9. Multiple doctors have declared her brain-dead, but her family has rejected the diagnosis and has fought to keep her on a breathing machine. Jahi cannot breathe on her own, doctors say.

On Friday, the family and hospital agreed through a compromise forged in Alameda Superior Court that Jahi's mother may remove her from the hospital as long as Jahi's mother takes responsibility for the child's care.

Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman J.D. Nelson said Friday that a death certificate had been issued for Jahi, but Dolan insisted in Sunday's interview that "she has not passed. Her kidneys function, she regulates her temperature and her body moves now more than ever. This is a real human being, not a dead body."

The hospital, however, continued to dispute that, as well as Dolan's assertion that Children's Hospital Oakland has "withheld food for 26 days," the result of which has "kept Jahi (from receiving) nutrients that might help her brain to be at an optimum place" for recovery.

"Sadly ... Mr. Dolan is not being truthful to the public or his clients," Singer said. "When he says his 'medical team' wants to feed her body so her brain will have the optimum nutrients, he is either being purposely deceptive or ignorant. In either case, he is perpetuating a sad and tragic hoax on the public and the McMath family. Tragically, this young woman is dead, and there is no food, no medical procedures and no amount of time that will bring back the deceased."

The agreement states that the hospital would allow a transfer team to enter the facility and move out Jahi, with her entire health responsibility and the responsibility of the move falling to the mother. Jahi's tubes from the ventilator ¿to be removed and placed into the transport team's equipment, along with other devices and her body moved from the hospital's gurney to a new one. Her medical records, medications and a status report also is to be handed over, and the hospital is to sever ties with her, the agreement states.

Sealey said he's hoping "to have her come back home with 100 percent full recovery."

"If I wasn't ready for the long distance fight I wouldn't have taken it this far," Sealey said. "I'd rather have her live her life versus having (had them) take her life."

David DeBolt covers breaking news. Contact him in Richmond at 510-262-2728. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt. Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH.