The mother of a brain-dead teen who was involved in a legal battle to keep her on a ventilator says the girl is “much better physically” since she was moved to a long-term care facility about a month ago.
Jahi Mcmath’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, said on the “Keep Jahi Mcmath on life support” Facebook page that her daughter has improved since she left Children’s Hospital Oakland in California on Jan. 6. She thanked supporters who helped move her daughter from the medical center to the undisclosed location, adding that she is sure that Jahi is not suffering.
“Thank you to all of the people who view my daughter as the sweet, innocent, 13 year old girl that she is and not a dead body or a corpse, I deeply appreciate that. Thank you to everyone who hasn't forgot how my daughter got into this situation in the first place. No one should have to go through this,” she wrote.
She also thanked people who voiced their positive and negative views on Jahi’s case, because she said it brought worldwide attention to the issues at hand.
“Hopefully my daughter can change some of the ways brain death is viewed in today's society. Honestly, I think she already has,” Winkfield wrote.
Medical experts have maintained the girl is deceased because brain death is still death.
Jahi, 13, went in for a tonsillectomy in early December 2013 at Children’s Hospital Oakland to treat her sleep apnea. After the procedure, her family reported she started bleeding from the nose and mouth and went into cardiac arrest.
Doctors soon declared her brain dead and put her on a ventilator. Brain death is marked by the end of all brain activity, meaning Jahi would not be able to maintain the bodily functions she needs to stay alive without the help of machines.
“When someone’s declared brain-dead they are actually literally dead. What’s really happening is blood has been circulating in the body. Certain biological processes with the cells and the organs are continuing, for a body that is no longer a person. They've already passed away,” David Magnus, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, told the Associated Press.
The hospital wanted to remove Jahi off the ventilator, but the family fought the decision and asked for other medical opinions. After independent examinations, a California judge ruled that the hospital could take Jahi off the ventilator after Dec. 30, 2013. During that time, the hospital refused to allow their doctors or any visiting doctors to place breathing or feeding tubes that would be necessary to transport Jahi from the hospital for future care.
On Jan. 3, Children’s Hospital Oakland and Jahi’s family’s attorneys reached an agreement to move the teen from their medical facilities to an undisclosed location. Winkfield agreed to be responsible for whatever happened to Jahi while she was in transit to the new facility, and the Alameda County coroner had to accept Jahi’s body before any moves took place.