Family pleads to keep girl, 13, on life support after tonsil surgery

Posted on: 7:11 am, December 17, 2013, by , updated on: 07:12am, December 17, 2013

OAKLAND, Calif. — The family of a 13-year-old girl says they tried to persuade doctors to do another test and keep her on life support Monday night, as they deal with her condition and seek answers to what happened after a routine procedure went terribly wrong.

For days, family and friends have rallied outside Children’s Hospital Oakland to support Jahi McMath who was declared brain-dead after a surgery to have her tonsils removed.

The teen’s mother says doctors told her she would be removed from life support on Tuesday, but she and others in the family continue to try to persuade them to wait.

“They are telling me straight up the coroner is coming to get her. And I went in there and cried to this man and I said just check her brain one more time. I asked him, ‘Do you have children?’ and he said yeah, and I said, ‘Well you should know how it feels.’ I won’t give up on my daughter,” said Nailah Winkfield, Jahi’s mother.

Family members say McMath experienced complications from what was supposed to be a routine procedure and went into cardiac arrest days after surgery .

“My daughter drowned on her own blood,” Nailah said. “And I’m still going to fight to keep her on, but they are just not compassionate. My daughter is a bedspace. They need to get her out of there, so they can move the next person’s child in there and kill them, too.”

A hospital spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the specifics of this case, but she said the hospital is reviewing the case closely.


  • I feel bad for that poor family, I can only imagine what they must be going through. Although, she needs to speak to a lawyer, a hospital can’t take someone off of life support against the family’s wishes. I am anxious to hear what the upcoming brain scan reveals.

  • Kay Pillow says:

    probably all about cost. id be curious as to their insurance. god bless them all. hope she wakes up.

  • Becki C says:

    I know a little girl who dies from a tonsillectomy when she coughed in her sleep and drowned in her own blood. It happens a lot.

    • Tiffany says:

      As a child I had something similar happen to me from complication of tonsil surgery. I died twice and had to have a emergency blood transfusion.

    • Ashley says:

      There is actually much more to this story than what is mentioned in this article, see the original on CNN. I would like to stress that it is not common for someone to die and drown after a tonsillectomy. This morbidly obese girl had a lot more going on than the family wishes to give to the media. Unfortunately, this little child has had a prolonged time on the ventilator which is very sad. Family needs to come to terms, and let her go. You do not reverse brain death, god cannot cure it. I just wish she had real caregivers/parents after surgery when it is critical to check for bleeding and make sure the child is not doing things that would increase bleeding- but she was not cared for. That is why this child is dead. Praying for her.

  • Brandy says:

    Scott, you must not have read the article very good. Don’t you think if they just wanted her as a meal ticket, the family would agree to taking her off life support? Do you need some help in reading comprehension??!! This is a very sad story. I pray the little girl wakes up, but it doesn’t sound real promising. And, at this time of year … may God be with them!

  • Scott says:

    Well if they agreed to have her taken off life support, that wouldn’t be much of a lawsuit would it? Did you not read the story? Because it was a simple operation does not give them the right for suit. There was no error she went into cardiac arrest, sadly a chance with every surgery. This is the only way they have for a law suit, but it would not hold in the court of law or civil suit either. Yes I read the story and I am a lawyer, I venture to say I know more about this that you…

  • Angie says:

    Scott.. I have a real problem with you. So you are a lawyer? Congratulations on that. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but does being a lawyer make you “all knowing”? You seem to know these people and their inner thoughts. Also and much more probable, being a lawyer seems to have made you lose sight of any compassion and empathy you may have been born with. Do you have children? I hope not for their sake. Have some respect.

  • NeuroRN says:

    Brain death, by definition, is death…it is irreversible (the physiology of the brain stem being forced out of the cranium halts all blood flow to the brain, and it cannot be made to go back in the cranial vault), and without the ventilator and other interventions, the patient would die quickly. Legally and medically, when a patient is declared brain dead (we are VERY careful with that term, no healthcare professional uses it lightly), they are deceased.
    In order to be declared brain dead, very careful and fundamental testing is applied. Clinical observations and tests, which are repeated 24 hours apart (to make sure there aren’t erroneous findings), and then what we call “confirmatory testing”, such as a cerebral blood flow study. This shows whether there is ANY blood flow to the brain at all. When this test shows no blood flow to the brain, they are formally declared.
    I feel for the family, and it is always possible that somebody along the way deviated from the norm in testing…but families, in my experience, sometimes REALLY struggle with understanding brain death (“but his heart is still beating, he’s not DEAD!”) and the permanence of it. Especially with this sensitive of a case (what should be an easy case goes horribly wrong), I would find it hard to believe that this hospital wouldn’t take EVERY step in assuring that this is the correct diagnosis. I hope the family can somehow find peace, I cannot imagine what they are going through.

  • trish says:

    I don’t see the harm in running another test if the family just needs one more to feel better about the decision to remove her from support.

  • Rena says:

    I agree with you trish .I feel for the family and the situation but what harm can it do to run another test so that the family have comfort and closer for their decision they make I see that mothers pain I had to look in my own daughter’s face when she had to let her son go. to the family I no what your going through I have prayed every since I herd this story our prayer’s are with you .and my the Lord be with you all

  • John Smith says:

    They should leave her on life support until the family can let her go. So horribly sad!

  • FamousLisa says:

    Sad story indeed. The problem is is that we don’t know the girl’s medical history before going into this surgery. Maybe this wasn’t such a routine surgery for her. Who knows.

  • Something is wrong with this… was this a real doctor or just a butcher… real doctors should know their patient before doing such a “BASIC surgery” I’m sending prayers to this poor family and hope that they are allow time to spend with her and grieve if need be, with this beautiful child…

  • Crystal says:

    Reading some of the comments and thinking do you people have children seriously, rather their is no hope or not what would it hurt to give the mother some hope and keep her baby on life support a little longer. It’s all about money, it all about clearing the bed for someone else to be put in it. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes thinking what if that was one of my daughter’s my heart goes out to this family and I pray for a miracle. Miracle happen everyday and I pray that it happens in this case!!! If a miracle doesn’t happen ok but give these parents time to deal with this and don’t just tell them well Tues were pulling the plug! :’( I bet if these parents had millions in their pockets they’d get to decide when the plug gets pulled!!! Sad story my thoughts and Prayers go out to the family!! :’(

  • I’m very happy to read about the tonsil surgery because i am a medical student and love to learn by visiting your site. Thanks for sharing with us!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s