In Oakland, California, a funeral service was held for 17-year-old Jahi McMath. McMath was declared brain dead 4 years ago after suffering irreversible brain damage during a routine surgery in California when she was just 13 years old.
Nailah Winkfield, Jahi’s mother, fought to keep her daughter on life support despite the doctor’s findings. At the service, Nailah struggled to stand as the death of her daughter was too much to bear.
Church Gives Nailah Winkfield, Jahi’s mother, A Standing Ovation As She Slammed Doctors At The Funeral Of Her Daughter:
Dozens of family members, friends and other mourners filed into a Northern California church on Friday for the funeral of Jahi McMath, a teenage girl who was at the center of a medical and religious debate over brain death. The funeral took place at Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland, where Jahi’s body lay in a purple casket and photos of her adorned the church. Her body will be laid to rest at Mount Eden Cemetery in Hayward. Despite the fact that California doctors declared McMath brain dead, Winkfield refused to accept the California doctors’ conclusions and moved her daughter to New Jersey, a state that accommodates religions that don’t recognize brain death. According to KTVU, McMath died on June 22nd due to excessive bleeding after an abdominal operation. Jahi now has two death certificates.
In tears, Winkfield spoke at her daughter’s funeral service stating that her deep Christian beliefs prevented her from accepting the doctor’s conclusions that her daughter was brain dead. Winkfield believed that her daughter was alive because she could reportedly respond to her name being called and perform simple commands such as wiggling a finger or toe.
My daughter should not have died in New Jersey, Winkfield said at Jahi’s funeral service. She should have died in California.
Winkfield criticized the doctors who insisted her daughter was dead and said she was fighting to eliminate “brain death” as a diagnosis.
Stop letting them pull the plug on your people, Winkfield said of doctors. They are not God.
Jahi’s Family Is Planning To Sue The Doctors And Oakland’s Children’s Hospital For Medical Malpractice:
Now that Jahi has died, her family plans to move forward with a wrongful-death suit against the hospital, along with a federal civil rights case to reverse her initial death certificate as they believed that she died in New Jersey and not California.
According to the Washington Post, Jahi McMath had tonsil-removal surgery in which doctors removed her tonsils, adenoids and soft palate to address her sleep apnea. After the surgery, Jahi was bleeding as she coughed up blood. Her family was concerned but nurses maintained that the bleeding was normal. However, Winkfield became concerned when she noticed that blood covered her daughter’s bed sheets. She called for a doctor but no one came.
No one was listening to us, Winkfield recounted to the New Yorker. I can’t prove it, but I really feel in my heart: if Jahi was a little white girl, I feel we would have gotten a little more help and attention.
When doctors finally arrived, Jahi’s grandmother, who is also a nurse, noticed that her oxygen-saturation levels dropped. Jahi went into cardiac arrest and in two days, doctors pronounced Jahi as brain dead but her family disagreed.
In the medical malpractice lawsuit filed against Jahi’s Oakland hospital and surgeon, the family said doctors failed to note an “anatomical anomaly” in Jahi that posed an increased risk of hemorrhaging. Jahi’s mother accused the hospital’s staff of failing to summon a doctor when her daughter desperately needed medical attention.
The hospital and the doctors who treated Jahi have denied wrongdoing. If the jury decides she was still alive and finds medical malpractice, her family could seek to recover their costs of caring for her since December 2013. To care for her daughter, Winkfield sold her home, gave up her job, and moved to New Jersey to care for her daughter. If jurors decide Jahi died in 2013, the family could not seek damages for any expenses, only for emotional harm caused by medical malpractice — which, under California law, is limited to $250,000 for each plaintiff. The family is hoping that a judge dismisses her December 2013 death certificate and accepts the June 22nd death.