In December 2013, Jahi McMath was at the center of a medical and religious debate about brain death following a major brain injury when she was 13-years-old.
After a surgery to correct her intestinal tissue in New Jersey on June 22, doctors officially declared her dead, Time reports. McMath's mother, Nailah Winkfield, confirmed the declaration on Thursday.
This latest surgery followed a 2013 tonsil removal surgery that left McMath with irreversible brain damage. Following that surgery, a coroner signed a death certificate, and McMath was declared dead. Specialists conducted neurological tests and agreed. However, Winkfield refused to accept her daughter was gone.
“Jahi wasn’t brain dead or any kind of dead,” said Winkfield. “She was a girl with a brain injury, and she deserved to be cared for like any other child who had a brain injury.”
Winkfield flew her daughter to New Jersey, where she remained on life support. The mother chose New Jersey because that state supports religions that do not recognize brain death as death. McMath's story received national attention, and numerous religious groups raised money for her medical care.
“These last four-and-a-half years have not been easy,” Winkfield said. “I can go to sleep knowing I did everything possible for my kid, and no one can take that away from me.”
Winkfield and her legal team have filed a malpractice lawsuit again Children's Hospital in Oakland, and have attempted to rescind the California death certificate.
“My wish is that [Jahi] will get some laws changed,” Winkfield said. “I really hope that people learn from this and learn not to pull the plug so fast.”