The mother of a Oakland, Calif., girl who was declared brain dead after what should have been a routine tonsillectomy says she cannot bring herself to take her daughter off life support.
“They have been pressuring me to ‘pull the plug’,” Nailah Winkfield wrote in an open letter released this weekend. “I can’t. I won’t. I can’t let them kill my baby a second time.”
Winkfield has been at the bedside of her 13-year-old daughter, Jahi McMath, since the girl was admitted to the Children’s Hospital Oakland on Dec. 9 to get her tonsils removed.
What should have been a “simple procedure” to help the 13-year-old with her sleep apnea turned into a nightmare for the family after the girl suffered complications and began bleeding profusely from her nose and mouth for hours, Winkfield said.
McMath then went into cardiac arrest, and was revived by doctors, only for them to declare the girl brain dead on Dec. 12.
The hospital wanted to disconnect the girl from her life support shortly after the diagnosis, but the family attorney sought a court order to keep her alive.
A Superior Court judge ruled on Friday that McMath is to remain on the ventilator until Monday, after both sides agreed a court-appointment neurologist will reexamine the girl’s condition and report back on findings.
Winkfield’s letter is a last-ditch attempt to pressure the hospital into keeping her daughter on life support past Monday.
“Despite what they say, she is alive. I can touch her, she is warm,” Winkfield wrote. “She responds to my touch.
“Given time I know (God) will spark her brain awake,” she wrote.
But the hospital say tests performed separately by a neurologist and the attending physician indicate that the girl’s entire brain, including stem cells, have stopped functioning.
“It would be unfair to give false hope that Jahi will come back to life,” Children’s Hospital of Oakland said in a statement.
“There is absolutely no medical possibility that (Jahi’s) condition is reversible or that she will someday recover from death,” the doctors wrote in declarations presented to the court Friday. “Thus, there is no medical justification to provide any further medical treatment whatsoever to (her).”
The family told ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco they will hold a march and rally Monday at 9:30 a.m. PT outside the hospital. They said the rally will be peaceful and lawful.
“Jahi’s favorite color is purple. So if you can come out wearing a purple shirt, it doesn’t matter what shade it is. But if you have a purple shirt, please wear it and march with us Monday morning,” McMaths’s uncle, Omari Sealey, said.
Winkfield told KGO-TV on Friday she was grateful just to have three more days with her daughter.
“It is hard because I feel like I’m just on borrowed time with my daughter,” Winkfield said. “I will fight for my daughter until I can’t fight anymore and I don’t know when a mother loses a fight for her children.”