13-Year-Old Girl Brain Dead After Tonsillectomy To Be Taken Off Life Support Against Family’s Wishes

16 Comments
December 17, 2013 ‐ By

Jahi McMath

We told you yesterday about the very sad story of Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old girl from Oakland who went into the Oakland Children’s Hospital last week for a tonsillectomy, had major complications from the surgery and went into cardiac arrest, died, was revived, and is now brain dead. After finding out that her daughter was brain dead, Nailah Winkfield said in an interview with the ABC affiliate in California that she felt staff at the hospital had been rushing to take her daughter off of life support:

“They just have a social worker follow me around all day long asking me ‘do you have any other family that needs to see her?’ like trying to put a rush on it.”

And sadly it seems that the hospital is indeed rushing things, because according to The Daily Mail and KTVU, doctors have decided to remove her from life support TODAY because she’s been declared brain dead. Remember, she just went into the hospital for the procedure last Monday. The Alameda County Coroner reportedly wanted to pick her body up yesterday, but doctors decided to wait until Tuesday to give her family more time. McMath’s uncle, Omari Sealey, says it’s a decision the family is extremely upset about, because they wanted to see if her condition could improve in any way:

“We didn’t want her to be removed from life support but the decision is out of our hands because it’s been declared a legal death.

Something terrible went wrong. We hope the hospital’s investigation is conducted fairly and we get some answers.”

The procedure was supposed to be a simple routine one, but from jump Sealey claims that the young girl was apprehensive about the surgery, thinking something bad would happen to her. This is of course a normal worry for a child facing any kind of surgery. All seemed to be going well after the procedure, but her family, including her uncle, say that she started bleeding a great deal from the nose and mouth:

“I saw blood come out of her mouth. The images will stick with me forever.”

The chief of children’s pediatrics at Oakland Children’s Hospital, Dr. David Durand, put out a statement saying that the hospital is investigating McMath’s case and expressed sadness over the incident.

“Our hearts go out to her family and we want to support them during this extremely difficult time. With any surgical or medical procedure there are inherent risks and in rare occasions there are unexpected outcomes.”

According to the Daily Mail, to be declared legally dead because you’re brain dead, “two doctors must declare it at least three hours apart.”

Sadly, this is not the ending her family was hoping for, as Sealey had previously told the Oakland Tribune that they were hoping for a “Christmas miracle.” Now the family is reportedly trying to figure out whether or not they want to donate this beautiful child’s organs for future transplants. Please keep them in your prayers.

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  • Jacqueline Graham

    Do whatever it takes to bring justice for your daughter and to make sure that Dr will never aloowed or perform another surgery on anyone else. All invloves their license need to be taken away. My condolences to you and your family, pray to GOD for strenght he will see you through.

  • khepra Bey

    They are most likely after her organs anyhow

  • Maintain Life Support!

    DO NOT TAKE THAT CHILD OFF LIFE SUPPORT! I’m totally with the family..if they don’t want her removed from “life support” then the hospital NEEDS to honor the families wishes. I don’t believe in giving false hope but I do know that there have been countless cases where people have been declared beyond recovery and then surprised the hell out of everyone by making incredible recoveries! It’s too soon for several reasons, the biggest being the family still believes there is HOPE for her…give them that opportunity & respect their beliefs…there is NO REASON TO RUSH REMOVING HER FROM LIFE SUPPORT until the family is convinced she is beyond any reasonable hope. Further…you’d be surprised at how many kids & people bleed from these common surgeries (like tonsillectomies, etc)….More “bleeding/clotting studies” need to be done PRIOR to surgery to avoid these types of tragedies! I tend to bleed myself…but it never shows in the routine pre-op labs ordered. God bless you and I will pray for her recovery.
    Sign me: RN of over 30 years!

  • Kam

    It is so sad to see a young life end so suddenly and unexpectedly. I hope that a fair and thorough investigation of the circumstances that led to her brain death is done. Unfortunately for the family, if they aren’t in a position to move her to a long term care facility the decision rests with the doctors. What the family does have control over is whether or not to donate the childs organs so I don’t think the hospital is rushing them in order to harvest her organs. I do however hope that they decide to do so, their daughter could live on through organ donation.

    • Mary Wood

      I pray for the family as they grieve and pray they accept God’s will and give a gift of life to someone else by donating organs. It is difficult, but blessing someone else always brings bountiful blessings to you. I know this to be true as I donated my young son’s organs and my sister’s organs were a blessing as well. May God smile on this family. MJ

  • hollyw

    …was there a law I missed? I thought life support was solely the family’s decision?? WOW I really need to brush up on my rights before I move to CA… o.O

    • Kam

      Life support isn’t a family decision unless the family can afford to move the person to another facility that will take care of the person long term. If not then the hospital can make the determination that life support should cease.

    • khepra Bey

      If its private pay.you can lay around until ur medical benefits are depleted which can be quickly since most insurance caps are 1-2million per person on a policy..that could be depleted in 4 months or less…if ur on medicaid ur dead

  • Town

    Sounds like the hospital wants to pull the plug so they can harvest her organs.

    • De’Lorean St Laurent

      They want to pull the plug because there is nothing they can do for her. Brain death is an irreversible condition. Would you prefer that they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep this girl on life support, thus removing staff and resources from other patients who still have a chance?
      It’s a sad story but I doubt this is about organs.

  • Kristen

    This poor baby and her family. The medical professionals obviously don’t care about her. This is so sad, I’m praying for all of them.

    • De’Lorean St Laurent

      How do you know that they don’t care?

      She is brain dead! It’s irreversible and there is nothing they can do about that. Sad story but don’t attack the doctors because I’m sure they aren’t walking around happy. From my experience working in hospitals, you can usually see how heavy it weighs on a doctor’s soul when they lose a patient.

      • Taryn Bryant

        Not as much as you may think. They get conditioned to it and many times will not think another thing about it beyond the technical aspects. I have seem them laughing and joking pushing a fresh cadaver down the hall, face uncovered with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. How’s that for respect and compassion?

      • khepra Bey

        If its weighing heavily on the drs soul (which I doubt) they must be residents…speaking from experience

      • Kristen

        Then why did they have a social worker following the mother around all day pressuring her on if there’s any other family members that need to see her before the mother made any decisions on her being on life support? The mother got a rushed feeling from the social worker meaning that they know they screwed up. And the staff was encouraging her to remove her daughter from life support. Give the woman some time!!

        I doubt I attacked the doctors by giving my opinion. People use that word to freely. And if you think all medical professionals are moral and sad about losing a patient then you must live in a perfect world.

  • Meesha

    This story truly bought tears to my eyes. My prayers go out to this family.