A mother who fought hard for her teenage daughter to stay on life support after being declared brain-dead nearly five years ago has said goodbye to her child. Jahi McMath died after a surgery in New Jersey on June 22, her mother, Nailah Winkfield confirmed Thursday.
McMath’s story had reached people nationwide after the Oakland teen, who was 13 at the time, suffered severe brain damage during a routine tonsil surgery in California in December 2013, Time reported. The teen was said to be brain-dead by specialists after neurological tests were done, and a coroner signed a death certificate. Winkfield, however, put her faith to the test, refusing to accept doctors’ conclusions and committing to go to bat for her child to get continued medical care.
In a brave move, Winkfield, fueled by her religious beliefs, flew McMath to New Jersey where she remained on life support. The mother sold her Oakland home, quit her job and used her savings to get her daughter the best possible care. Winkfield drew much support from family care groups who rallied to help raise money for the teen’s medical expenses.
Nationwide, McMath and Winkfield’s stories drew attention and ignited a debate over brain death and religion as well.
The mother, fighting for her child, also found the strength to challenge the California death certificate. She filed a medical malpractice suit against the Children’s Hospital in Oakland, prompting a judge to ask a jury last year to decide in the matter. As of now, McMath, with her daughter’s death still fresh in her mind, is deciding whether to continue the legal fight in an attempt to spare pain for other families in similar situations.
“My wish is that she will get some laws changed,” Winkfield said about her daughter. “I really hope that people learn from this and learn not to pull the plug so fast.”