Mother of Brain Dead Teen Writes Open Letter

Nailah Winkfield believes her daughter Jahi McMath will be awakened.

Posted: 12/30/2013 08:29 AM EST

Nailah Winkfield, the mother of Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead after complications from a tonsillectomy, has penned an open letter describing her family’s fight to keep her daughter on life support, according to KTVU.

A California judge ruled that the hospital had permission to take Jahi off life support on Dec. 24, but her family has appealed the decision and are looking transfer her to a new facility. Doctors can remove Jahi from the ventilator Monday at 5 p.m. PST. 

What was supposed to be a simple procedure ended with complications. Jahi was admitted to Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland on Dec. 9 to have her tonsils removed, and began bleeding profusely after the surgery. She then went into cardiac arrest.

In a statement, the Children's hospital said despite criticism from the family's lawyer, they support the family's decision to move Jahi. Doctors say Jahi’s condition is irreversible, but Winkfield says she believes God will eventually “spark her brain awake”:   

I am a mother. She is my daughter. I am alive. Despite what they say, she is alive. I can touch her, she is warm. She responds to my touch. I can love her — I can feel her love. When she was in my belly I fell in love with her. Her heartbeat for the beginning of her life was my heartbeat until God, through a miracle, sparked her heart into existence. Given time I know he will spark her brain awake.

She is Jahi a name that means known by many. If she knew about all this attention she would blush. She is very shy.

My daughter sits on life support. I feel like she is on death row. The clock is ticking — ticking down. Childrens Hospital Oakland says she is dead. She was not dead when I brought her here on December 9th for a routine tonsillectomy. I put her in their hands, now they want to wash their hands of her.

Jahi had an operation. I was told it went well. Then she started bleeding from her mouth. They gave me a cup for her to bleed into and said it was normal. She bled more and more. I couldn’t keep up with it. I asked for help, they gave me a bigger bucket. She bled more. They did not answer our pleas for a doctor. Her surgeon never came back. She had a heart attack and her heart stopped beating. Then they came — then. They shocked her back into life. Now they say she is dead.

Before the surgery she said I am scared mommy. I said why Jahi? She said I am afraid I won't wake up. I told her it was going to be fine, it was a simple procedure. I should have listened to her.

She is on a respirator — with air she lives, her heart beats, her kidneys produce urine, she is warm and soft. They have been pressuring me to “pull the plug.” I can’t. I won’t. I can't let them kill my baby a second time.

I am fighting for her life. Each breath the vent gives her one more chance to live and gets her one step closer to the hospital’s deadline. What a word. I never thought they could tell me, her mother, they were going to pull the plug take her body to the morgue and send us home on Christmas while she lays in a freezer. She is warm now. I want my baby to be warm. We need time.

The Hospital says she is legally dead. That they can legally stop her breathing. I am not a lawyer. We called many in the middle of the night Monday as they were coming to unplug her Tuesday night. One answered the call. We stopped them. Every day is a struggle. We fight for Jahi. We have a temporary restraining order until Monday - then the Judge can say my baby is legally dead and Childrens can unplug her. It doesn’t matter what I say. I never thought I would have to go to court to get a hospital to treat my child.

Hold your children tight. Tell them you love them. I tell my daughter over and over. I know she can hear me. If she has any brain activity when they do the independent tests she will be kept alive. Pray for my daughter Jahi, pray that she will get better so they don’t kill her. Pray for me, mothers, that my love can bring her life once more.

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Follow Natelege Whaley on Twitter: @nateIege.

 (Photo: AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)



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