A family is struggling with the painful decision of whether or not to take their daughter off life support after the 13-year-old was left brain dead following routine tonsil surgery. To make matters worse, the family claims the hospital is pressing them for an answer.
According to KGO-TV, Jahi McMath went into Oakland Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif., last Monday for a routine tonsil and adenoid removal. The girl suffered from a disorder called sleep apnea, a chronic condition in which breathing pauses or becomes shallow while a person sleeps. Because sleep apnea disrupts normal sleep patterns, causing the person to move out of deep sleep and into light sleep, the condition is the leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
The surgery was supposed to be a relatively standard procedure. McMath should have been out of the hospital the following day. But complications post-surgery have left the Oakland girl brain dead.
“[They] told me my daughter would be home on Tuesday and now you tell me she’ll never come home again!” McMath’s mother, Nailah Winkfieldsaid, told News One.
According to reports, after her surgery, McMath began bleeding profusely from her nose and mouth, and was spitting up large blood clots. The family said hospital staff gave them a cup and asked them to catch the clots so they could be measured. Shortly afterward, the teen went into cardiac arrest. Hospital personnel were able to revive her but the damage was already done.
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According to the Oakland Tribune, McMath spent Tuesday on a ventilator. By 2 a.m. Wednesday, McMath’s brain had begun to swell. Doctors declared the teen legally brain-dead by Thursday.
“I was the last one to see Jahi,” Sandra Chatman, the girl’s grandmother, told reporters. “I said, ‘Somebody help my baby please!’ And they came in and starting working on her. The next thing I know, the doctor said, ‘Oh no, she doesn’t have a heart rate anymore.’”
The family said they feel as though the hospital is rushing them to make a decision about whether to take their daughter off 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," McMath’s mother told KGO-TV.
But the family isn’t budging. Instead, they’ve said that they will keep McMath on life support -- even if it means spending the holiday at the hospital -- until they have answers.
“As long as she has a pulse, we want her on life support,” Omari Sealey, Jahi McMath’s uncle, told the Oakland Tribune. “We want her to come home for Christmas. We want to give her presents. We want a chance for a Christmas miracle.”
According to News One, Melinda Kriegel, a representative of the hospital, denies that the hospital neglected McMath. She said the hospital will investigate what went wrong with McMath’s tonsil surgery.
"We're very sad about this outcome, about what's happened to her, but at this point I have no information on the details of the surgery,” Kriegel said in a statement. “We will certainly investigate what happened. In any surgery there are risks and there can be unexpected, unanticipated complications."