Mother of Jahi McMath, brain-dead after tonsillectomy, vows to fight

The mother of a 13-year-old Oakland girl who was pronounced brain-dead after a routine tonsillectomy says she will not stop fighting to have her daughter kept on a ventilator in the hopes that one day she’ll wake up.

Jahi McMath has been at the center of a public battle since she was found to be brain-dead soon after a routine procedure to remove her tonsils at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland on Dec. 9.

Her family has been fighting to keep her on a ventilator, despite the determination of a supervising doctor at the hospital that “there is absolutely no medical possibility” that Jahi’s condition is reversible “or that she will someday recover from death,” according to a court declaration.

An Alameda County judge Monday ordered hospital officials to keep Jahi on a ventilator until Dec. 30 while an independent neurologist reviews her case. That second medical opinion could be delivered as soon as Tuesday.


But Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, told CNN and other local media that while she’s grateful for the second opinion and court order, she has no intention of giving up the fight.

Family members have accused Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland of being callous in pushing to take Jahi off a ventilator, despite their wishes to keep her on life support.

“I’m her mother. I’m going to support her. It’s my job to do it. Any mother would do it,” Winkfield said in an interview with CNN’s “The Lead” on Monday. “I just want her to have more time. There are so many stories of people waking up in her situation.”

Family members told local media that they were looking forward to spending Christmas with Jahi in the hospital.

“This gives us the opportunity to spend Christmas with Jahi here at the hospital and possibly bring in the New Year with her as well,” Omari Sealey, Jahi’s uncle, told KGO-TV in San Francisco.

The family is also trying to get Jahi moved to an extended care facility.

Hospital administrators, citing patient privacy laws, have declined to discuss details of the case, but have said Jahi’s family and friends have perpetuated “misperceptions” about Jahi’s condition.

In statement after statement, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, David Durand, has expressed his “deepest sympathy” for Jahi’s mother. But, he added, “the ventilator cannot reverse the brain death that has occurred and it would be wrong to give false hope that Jahi will ever come back to life.”



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