OAKLAND, Calif. – The family of a teenage girl who was declared brain dead just days after obtaining a tonsillectomy is praying for a miracle in the face of the hospital’s intentions to take the child off life support.
Last Monday, 13-year-old Jahi McMath underwent the surgery at Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, as doctors had recommended the operation to help alleviate her sleep apnea, irregular weight gain and urination issues.
But her uncle, Omari Sealey, said that the girl was apprehensive even before going under the knife.
“The worst thing about all of this is that Jahi told my sister, ‘I don’t want to get this surgery; something bad is going to happen. I’m not going to wake up,’” he told CNN this week.
McMath reportedly asked for a Popsicle following the procedure, advising that her throat hurt. But soon after, the girl’s family knew that something was terribly wrong.
“When she got moved to ICU, there was a 30-minute wait until any family member could go see her,” her grandmother, Sandy Chapman, told reporters. “Upon entry, they saw that there was way too much blood.”
“She had to have four blood transfusions. She had two liters of blood pumped out of her lungs, not including what was in her stomach,” she continued. “There was an enormous amount of blood, and we kept asking, ‘Is this normal?’ Some nurses said, ‘I don’t know,’ and some said, ‘Yes.’ There was a lot of uncertainty and a lack of urgency.”
When McMath’s oxygen levels then began to fall dangerously low, Chapman called for help. The girl later went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain dead last Thursday. On Monday, doctors pronounced her legally dead and sought to take her off life support.
But McMath’s family would have nothing of it. They began praying and asking God for a miracle.
“I just feel my daughter is trapped inside of her body, just screaming to get out of there,” McMath’s mother, Latasha Winkfield, told reporters. “I won’t let them take her to the coroner’s office. I won’t.”
Winkfield hired attorney Christopher Dolan of San Francisco to help fight for the teen’s life, who issued a cease and desist letter to the hospital this week. The hospital has now stopped enforcing its order to unhook McMath from the ventilator—at least for now.
“We’re happy they backed off,” Sealey told ABC News. “You know, we’re not on doctor’s times anymore. We’re on God’s time. It’s provided us more time to get together and pray.”
“I believe that God has the final say for my daughter,” she stated, “and I just want everybody to pray for her, everywhere.”
A prayer gathering was held Wednesday night at Paradise Baptist Church in Oakland, and a petition has been launched in the fight to keep the girl on life support. A Facebook page has also been created to keep supporters updated about the situation.