Jahi McMath's family faces Monday life support deadline

This undated photo provided by the McMath family and Omari Sealey shows Jahi McMath. AP/McMath Family and Omari Seale

Last Updated Dec 30, 2013 4:50 PM EST

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Without further court order, a California hospital could pull the plug today on Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old girl declared brain dead after tonsil surgery who has been kept alive on a ventilator as her family battles the hospital in court.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo's current order allows Children's Hospital of Oakland to remove Jahi McMath from a ventilator today, Monday Dec. 30, at 5 p.m. P.T.

The judge sided with the hospital after hearing from two doctors, and has given the eighth grader’s family until this afternoon to appeal.

The family had been pinning its hopes on a New York facility to care for the child after two California care homes withdrew offers to accept her.

Jahi underwent a tonsillectomy at the hospital on Dec. 9 to treat sleep apnea. After she awoke from the operation, her family said, she started bleeding heavily and went into cardiac arrest. Doctors declared her brain dead on Dec. 12 and wanted to remove her from life support.

Doctors at Children's Hospital and an independent, court-appointed pediatric neurologist from Stanford University have concluded the girl is brain dead and her condition is irreversible.

The hospital wants to remove her from life support, but the family said they believe she is still alive.

"It's wrong for someone who made mistakes on your child to just call the coroner ... and not respect the family's feeling or rights," Jahi's grandmother, Sandra Chatman, who is a registered nurse, said last week. "I know Jahi suffered, and it tears me up."

Chris Dolan, the family's attorney, said he was waiting to hear from the New York hospital after its facility director and medical director speak.  

"The family is together, and today everybody is praying and being together," Dolan told the Associated Press Sunday. He said no decisions had been made about legal options for Monday, and would not comment on progress with the New York facility.

On Sunday, the hospital said it had not heard from the New York, or any other, facility about a transfer.

"We need to be able to talk to the other facility to understand what it is they are capable of doing," Cynthia Chiarappa, a hospital spokeswoman, said. "This is not transferring an individual in a vegetative state, but a dead body."

Brain-dead Girl In Calif.

What should happen in the matter?

 The hospital also said it would need to confirm there is "lawful transportation" included in any plan to transfer Jahi, and written permission from the coroner.

Dolan had previously said that before Jahi can be transferred to a nursing home, she must undergo two more medical procedures -- the insertion of a breathing tube and a feeding tube, both of which would be necessary for her long-term care, but which the nursing home is not equipped to perform.

The hospital though had refused to perform the procedures late last week.

"Children's Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice," said Dr. David Durand, the hospital's chief of pediatrics.

Dr. Arthur L. Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center and is not involved in Jahi's case, told The Associated Press last week that keeping the girl on a ventilator likely costs thousands of dollars each day, and is unlikely to be covered by health insurance because she’s been declared brain dead.

Sam Singer, a spokesperson for Children’s, told CBS News in an email Monday that the hospital is prevented from discussing the cost of daily medical care for Jahi and patients on a ventilator, citing federal health care privacy laws and adding that the family attorney is not allowing any details about the case to be discussed other than what the family or court documents say.

Comments