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On June 22nd, 2018, Jahi Kelis McMath died peacefully in the presence of her mother Nailah and step father Marvin in a hospital in New Jersey.  Jahi died as the result of complications associated with liver failure. Jahi had been living at home, with her mother Nailah Winkfield, her stepfather Marvin Winkfield, and younger sister in New Jersey for the last 4 years.  She will be returned to California to be buried near her family and friends.

A preliminary Abstract of Death (Death Certificate) was completed by the hospital physician treating Jahi listing her cause of death as bleeding as a result of hepatic (liver) failure.  It notes that Jahi had been suffering from an anoxic brain injury for 4 years. Anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen. Jahi suffered an anoxic brain injury as the result of severe blood loss after surgery at Children’s Hospital Oakland in December of 2013 when medical staff failed to treat Jahi or summon a doctor after she had undergone surgery on her tonsils, adenoids and soft palate to address a condition known as apnea.

Nailah Winkfield stated that she was “devastated by the loss of her daughter who had showed tremendous strength and courage.”  She stated “Jahi has forced the world to rethink the issue of brain death. Harvard University recently held a symposium where Jahi’s case was the discussed in detail.  Doctors presented papers and lectures agreeing that Jahi was not brain dead and, instead, that she presented evidence of a new level of consciousness.”

Nailah further stated:

“My every day was focused and revolved around Jahi.   I loved seeing her every morning and kissing her goodnight every night. The hole in my heart left by her passing is huge. “

“My daughter died on June 22nd, 2018, not December 12, 2013.  The doctors who were treating her at the time of her death state that she died of complications of liver failure.  Nowhere does it reference brain death. They acknowledge a prior brain injury but don’t try and call her brain dead.”

“Children’s Hospital Oakland and the doctors who hurt my child and allowed her to bleed so much she suffered a traumatic brain injury wanted to call my daughter brain dead because it served their purposes in trying to end her life so they could sweep their misconduct under the rug.”

“I knew Jahi wasn’t dead back in December of 2103.  I’m her mother and I know my child. And I was right.  Jahi McMath was not brain dead or any other kind of dead.  She was a little girl who deserved to be cared for and protected not called a dead body.  When she finally was treated like a human being she got better. As I told the doctors at Children’s Hospital Oakland, you all screwed up, you need to step back and let God have some time to heal my daughter.  Once she was away from Children’s and in the hands of people of faith who treated her she healed.”

“Back in December of 2013, Dr. Heidi Flori, from Children’s Hospital, said that Jahi’s body was decaying and that nothing could slow or reverse her imminent death.  She said that no heroic measures could change the fact that Jahi was going to die any day. She didn’t know me or my daughter. Jahi is a hero and she fought, and I fought with her.  And doctors who did care and did do the things we had asked for saved her life.”

“People who haven’t lived this life will never understand it.  I can tell you that I did everything for the benefit of my daughter.   As long as she was fighting to live, I was fighting with all my life for her.  These last 4 years Jahi hasn’t struggled. She has been living peacefully with me and my family in New Jersey. Just recently she got sick and we went to the hospital.  I have PTSD from the hospital, so it brought back everything from before. After an exploratory surgery Jahi began to exhibit symptoms of distress. She had some bleeding that they could not locate.  So, another surgery was planned. I told Jahi, if you are tired girl, and you are worn out from all of this struggle, and you want to be with God, I give you permission to go to God. It was only at that time that I ever felt Jahi slipping away.  What people need to know is that I loved her enough to let her go. I could tell. Had she been suffering before, or she was tired and wanted to go before, I would have let her go then. I was not exploited by anyone, I was fully aware of what people were saying, that my daughter was brain dead.  I knew otherwise, and I made the decisions I made, on my own, as her mother, knowing that my daughter had a very severe brain injury. I just knew she wasn’t dead.”

“During the last 4 years my daughter and I spent a lot of time together.  She could hear me and respond to my voice using her fingers to signal yes or no.  I knew when she had good days, bad days, if she was feeling pain, everything. Our communication may not have been like other peoples’, but we communicated.  When I walked into the room her heart rate would go up. Thant doesn’t happen with a dead person. My daughter knew I was there and that I loved her, I knew she was there and that she loved me too.  This has been verified by a well-known and respected neurologist, Dr. Alan Shewmon, from UCLA, who wrote a published paper saying that Jahi was able to understand and respond to my voice and was not brain dead.”

When told that Children’s Hospital’s paid spokesperson, San Singer, stated that her emotions had been exploited by her attorney Chris Dolan, Nailah responded saying: “Saying I have been exploited is saying I didn’t  understand what was happening with my daughter and I can’t make decisions for myself. This is a racist narrative that he started and continues. I’m not stupid, I was right. I probably know more about medicine after these four and a half years than most medical students.  Dolan has done only what I have asked him to do and I am glad he did. He didn’t tell me what to do, I told him what to do as my lawyer and he did it, for free.”

“I don’t regret fighting for my daughter’s life.  This journey has been long and difficult. I left a good paying job at Home Depot, cashed out all of my savings, sold my house and most of my belongings so that we could stay in New Jersey as a family.  I have been so stressed at times I wondered if I would make it. I could feel my daughter saying that she loved me and that she didn’t want me to be sad and I thought, how can I feel sorry for myself when my daughter is there dealing with what she had to deal with.  So, I would pull it together and continue. People can say whatever they want about me but what no one will ever say is that I gave up on my daughter. I never gave up. No one can say why didn’t you do this or that, I did everything that any human could. I would do it all over again if I had the choice.  I don’t regret any of the decisions I made for my daughter. We got to spend over 4 more years together. She just turned 17.”

“I am grateful to the nurses and doctors who cared for Jahi and about Jahi.  Although I am angry with the doctors who failed her and treated her as if she were not worthy of their care, I have seen that there are good doctors who care about life and the disabled not just about organ donation or saving insurance companies money.”

“I thank all the people who have prayed for us during this time and I ask that you continue to pray for me and my daughter. Your prayers helped keep me going and helped Jahi to survive and improve.  Prayer and faith are what kept us both going.”

“I have been fighting for the past 4 years to bring my daughter to come home so she could be cared for and loved by her family and friends in her hometown.  We were deprived of that right and we have lived in exile in the State of New Jersey which has humane laws allowing people to exercise their faith and reject the made up legal reasoning behind brain death which was designed to allow organs to be removed from people who still had beating hearts and living bodies.  It is tragic that only now, after her death can I bring my daughter home.”

When asked what she hopes people have learned from Jahi’s saga Nailah replied: “I hope people have learned that they have the right to stand up for their loved ones and reject the rush to end their lives.  I hope that they have learned not to unplug their people just because some doctor thinks it’s the best thing to do. The best thing for us was to fight and as a result Jahi had four more years knowing that her family loved and valued her, and that I fought for her.”

Omari Sealey, Jahi’s uncle, who fought for her survival stated: “Jahi may have departed from her body but her name, soul and spirit will be with us and live on forever.”

Christopher Dolan, Jahi and Nialah’s lawyer, who provided pro bono (free) representation over the last 4 years stated “It is a tragedy that the State of California refused to acknowledge that Jahi was a living, sentient being, and reverse her prior, incorrect death certificate so she could have come home.  The legal proceedings to prove her being alive were prolonged by the doctors who wanted her dead. The fight for Jahi is not over. Despite tremendous criticism I have no regrets about representing this family. I am honored to have been of service to them as a lawyer. Justice is not a popularity contest. At no time has this been important than now. Jahi’s case has led to the development of a body of law proclaiming that parents have the right to challenge a hasty brain death diagnosis that is often made during the moments of severe trauma before a brain has had an opportunity to recover just so that money can be saved and organs harvested.  Doctors should not be able to play God and decide who lives and who dies based on their ideas of what is best or what is the best use of resources. Life is precious, and this is a slippery slope. If we allow doctors to determine whose quality of life is worth preserving, and who should die, then we create a scenario where they can abort babies who will have severe birth defects and end the lives of people who they consider marginal such as the severely brain injured and elderly or who have dementia and are unable to function independently or know what is happening in their world. As our society grows older we must protect against death by committee to protect the vulnerable and the sanctity of life.”  He also stated that “the fight to hold the negligent doctors who allowed Jahi to suffer a severe brain injury will continue in the Superior Court of Alameda through a wrongful death action now Jahi has died.” He also stated that “he intends to continue to fight on behalf of Jahi through the federal civil rights case which was filed in the Northern District of California to have her hastily prepared death certificate reversed, and her date of death established as June 22, 2018.”

Jahi will be returning to California with her family in the coming days where she will be honored and buried in her own community.  Details regarding the service have yet to be released.

The family asks for peace and the opportunity to mourn the loss of their beloved Jahi.  They will make a further statement at a later date. Additional inquiry can be addressed to Jahi’s attorney, Christopher Dolan at chris@dolanlawfirm.com.

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Individual, attentive legal representation by highly experienced crash and accident attorneys with an outstanding record of success;
Substantial investigative, financial and technological resources that no individual attorney or small law firm can provide.

Individual, attentive legal representation by highly experienced crash and accident attorneys with an outstanding record of success;
Substantial investigative, financial and technological resources that no individual attorney or small law firm can provide.

Individual, attentive legal representation by highly experienced crash and accident attorneys with an outstanding record of success;
Substantial investigative, financial and technological resources that no individual attorney or small law firm can provide.


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