East Bay News

East Bay girl brain dead after tonsil surgery

Monday, December 16, 2013
Jahi McMaths family Nailah Winkfield, Marvin Winkfield, and 13-year-old daughter Jahi McMath A 13-year-old girl from Oakland is brain dead after she had surgery to have her tonsils removed at Oakland Childrens Hospital.

An Oakland family is praying for a miracle. Children's Hospital Oakland says 13-year-old Jahi McMath is brain-dead, but her mother is refusing to accept it.

The girl is an 8th grader at E.C. Reems Academy in Oakland. She entered the hospital last Monday to get her tonsils out, but complications left her brain-dead. Doctors say she hasn't been showing any signs brain activity for several days, but the family is refusing to let go. So Monday night the doctors agreed to give Jahi one last chance to show them there is reason to keep her on life support.

"They are telling me straight up the coroner is coming to get her. Come say your last good-byes... and I went in there and I cried to this man and said, 'Just check her brain one more time,'" said Nailah Winkfield, Jahi's mother.

Late Monday night, the family says the hospital agreed to give Jahi one last EEG test.

"So if this EEG test shows any type of brain activity, they cannot take her off of life support," said Omari Sealey, Jahi's uncle.

Jahi began bleeding profusely from the mouth shortly after routine tonsil surgery at Children's Hospital Oakland, last Monday. Within three hours she went into cardiac arrest and by Thursday the hospital declared her brain-dead.

"How is she brain dead if they're just working on her mouth? I don't get it," said Jose Llamas, Jahi's brother.

The family says the hospital cannot give them a reason why this happened. Meanwhile, the family is not allowing the hospital to speak on camera.

"I'm begging God please just let my daughter have some brain activity so I can bring her home," said Nailah.

Jahi's family says the test will be conducted either late Monday night or sometime on Tuesday morning.

Earlier on Monday, the family told ABC7 News they will not fight with Children's Hospital Oakland anymore and that they have agreed to move Jahi from life support. However, they still have a lot of questions.

"Before she came here she said, 'I don't want to have this surgery because I feel like something bad is going to happen to me.' And that's the guilt I have to live with every day," said Nailah Winkfield, Jahi's mother. "My daughter walked in here happy, smiling, healthy to get her tonsils and adenoids removed, which they said would make a better quality of life for her and now you want to tell me my daughter's dead?"

Jahi went in to have her tonsils removed. Doctors said it was to help with her sleep apnea, but in recovery, there were complications. Jahi was coughing up blood and unable to speak. Her parents were told by nurses to help with suction.

"I was horrific for us to have to sit there and suction it. Me holding and suctioning her mouth, her mom trying to hold something so she can write out to us because she can't talk now," said Marvin Winkfield, Jahi's stepfather.

After the heart attack, the medical staff revived her, but doctors said she was brain-dead.

"Nobody called the doctor until it was too late. That is the problem. My daughter drowned on her own blood and now it's Monday morning, it's business time and everybody's trying to cover it up, but you can't cover it up because God is going to help me find out the truth," said Nailah.

This family is demanding answers and claims Children's Hospital is pressuring them to remove Jahi from life support.

"And the only thing they say is the coroner is already looking for her. How could you already be looking for something with a heartbeat and a pulse? How you could be looking for something that still has a temperature? When I touch her she is warm," said Nailah.

In a statement from over the weekend, Oakland Children's Hospital spokesperson Melinda Krigel said: "We will certainly investigate what happened. In any surgery there are risks and there can be unexpected, unanticipated complications."

In a written statement from the hospital, the chief of pediatrics David Durand, M.D., says "We are reviewing her case very closely. Our hearts go out to her family, and we want to support them during this extremely difficult time."

The family says for now they won't leave their daughter's bedside hoping for a miracle.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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oakland, children, children's hospital oakland, east bay news
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