Teen Girl Still On Life Support One Year Later
A year after the tonsil surgery complication that led doctors to declare then-13-year-old Jahi McMath brain dead, she is still on a ventilator, “alive and well,” her family wrote on its public Facebook page.
Jahi’s family successfully fought a legal battle to keep her on life support after doctors at the Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, said the hospital could no longer care for her because she was brain dead. Since then, the family has argued that she is not brain dead and may recover.
“Today marks one year [since] this tragedy happened at the Children’s Hospital Oakland, and we want to thank God for keeping Jahi ALIVE and WELL against all odds,” the family wrote on the Keep Jahi McMath on Life Support Facebook Page.
The teen was undergoing tonsil surgery when she had significant blood loss and went into cardiac arrest on Dec. 9, 2013. She was declared brain dead, but the family sued to keep her on life support. She eventually was moved to a long-term care facility in New Jersey.
The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, which has supported Jahi’s family throughout the ordeal, said in October that the teen was “showing signs that may prove the hospital designation wrong.” Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, has said her daughter responds to verbal commands.
Schiavo’s case sparked a national debate in the 1990s and 2000s, when doctors, lawyers and family members battled for more than a decade over whether to remove Schiavo’s feeding tube and let her die. Shortly after the Supreme Court refused to hear Schiavo’s case in 2005, a judge ordered that her feeding tube be removed. Despite more legal back-and-forth over the next two weeks, she died on March 31, 2005.
This week, the McMath family gave a special thanks to their attorney, Christopher Dolan, for fighting for Jahi as if she was his child.
“Without him, they would have killed, Jahi,” the family wrote on Facebook.
Jahi’s relatives also thanked their other supporters.
“Thank you to all who respected and still respect our choice to save Jahi,” they wrote. “Jahi’s life IS worth the fight. Jahi McMath is ALIVE and doing well because of you. God bless you.”
The Benioff Children’s Hospital said in a statement to ABC News that its heart continues to go out to the family.