Jahi McMath’s family: We want to help the girl, not ‘play God’

Nailah Winkfield, mother of 13-year-old Jahi McMath, is comforted by brother Omari Sealey as she talks to the media outside Children's Hospital Oakland.
(Associated Press)

This post has been Updated at 11:09 a.m.

Two days after an agreement was reached to move 13-year-old Jahi McMath from an Oakland hospital, it remains unclear where the brain-dead girl will end up.

An attorney for McMath’s family has said it has located a doctor willing to work with them and mentioned that she could be sent to a facility in New York, according to NBC Bay Area.

Though a court and hospital officials say Jahi is brain-dead, her mother, Nailah Winkfield, still holds out hope and claims the girl is “improving.”


“I will always fight for Jahi until she is ready to go, her own self. I can’t play God. She’s going to get better or she’s not, but I see her getting better,” Winkfield told reporters Friday night, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Jahi’s uncle added to NBC that the family was “very happy” to now have the ability to move the girl.

The facility was not immediately identified, and although the girl can be moved while on a ventilator, her mother will take full responsibility for Jahi during the transfer, including in the event that the teen’s heart stops beating, under an agreement reached Friday.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo, however, refused the McMath family’s request for hospital doctors or another physician to insert feeding and tracheostomy tubes for the move.


PHOTOS: The Jahi McMath case

Christopher Dolan, attorney for the McMath family, has not said specifically where or when she would be moved.

Jahi suffered heavy bleeding, cardiac arrest and “whole-brain death” — defined as an irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem — on Dec. 12, three days after complex tonsillectomy surgery.

Two hospital physicians and three outside doctors requested by the family deemed her brain-dead, court records show, and the county coroner was notified of the death. But the family protested the hospital’s intention to remove Jahi from a ventilator.


An independent physician named by Grillo last week corroborated the determination that Jahi is legally dead, saying that testing showed no blood flow to the brain, no ability to breathe without the ventilator and no sign of electrical activity in her brain.


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