Update, Feb. 20, 2014: Jahi McMath ‘Doing Much Better Physically,’ Mom Says

(Jahi McMath Fund)
(Jahi McMath Fund)

The family of Jahi McMath isn’t disclosing where the brain-dead 13-year-old has been transferred, saying only that she was transported via ground after she was removed from Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland on Sunday and that she’s at a facility that shares their belief that Jahi is still alive.

In legal filings last month, the attorney for the family said it had heard from two facilities willing to accept Jahi — an unnamed one in Arizona and one on Long Island, east of New York City. Attorney Christopher Dolan’s filing included a $32,000 estimate for an air ambulance that would take the girl to the New Beginnings Community Center for Brain Injury Rehabilitation in Medford, N.Y.

Jahi’s uncle, Omari Sealey, joined Dolan in a press conference in San Francisco Monday to discuss the transfer. From an Associated Press account:

[Sealey] told reporters Monday that Jahi traveled by ground and that there were no complications in the transfer, suggesting she may still be in California. Nurses and doctors are working to stabilize her with intravenous antibiotics, minerals and supplements while she remains on the ventilator, but her condition is too precarious for additional measures, lawyer Christopher Dolan said.

The new facility has “been very welcoming with open arms. They have beliefs just like ours,” Sealey said. “They believe as we do … It’s a place where she is going to get the treatment she deserves.”

The nearly $50,000 in private donations the family has raised since taking the case public helped cover the carefully choreographed handoff to the critical care team and transportation to the new location, Sealey said. The facility, where Jahi is expected to remain for some time, is run by a charitable organization that so far hasn’t sought payment, Dolan said.

Both men refused to name the facility or reveal where it was located, saying they wanted to prevent staff members and the families of other patients from being harassed.

Dolan also addressed Jahi’s physical condition. According to the San Jose Mercury News:

“Right now, we don’t know if she’s going to make it,” said Dolan.

“She’s in very bad shape,” he said. “What I can tell you is that those examinations show that her medical condition, separate from the brain issue, is not good.”

Dolan’s frank and sober assessment echoes a Friday legal declaration by Children’s Hospital Oakland critical care pediatrician Dr. Heidi R. Flori, who opposed surgical insertion of a feeding tube because the girl’s body was deteriorating.

Brain-dead for 25 days, Jahi has been sustained under court order with a breathing machine and other medical interventions since complications arose after surgery to remove her tonsils and other tissue.

Until Monday, she had gone without nourishment because the hospital had diagnosed her as legally and medically dead. Dolan said Monday that Jahi is now receiving potassium, minerals and hormones through an IV, in addition to antibiotics.

Original post on Jahi McMath’s removal from Oakland Children’s Hospital, from the Associated Press:

By Terry Collins
Associated Press

The family of Jahi McMath has had the brain-dead 13-year-old taken from Children’s Hospital in Oakland to an undisclosed location. The girl was moved by a critical care team about 8 p.m. Sunday while attached to a ventilator but without a feeding tube, family attorney Christopher Dolan said.

“It was a very tense situation,” said Dolan. “Everybody played by the rules.”

(Jahi McMath Fund)
(Jahi McMath Fund)

David Durand, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, said the girl was released to the coroner. The coroner then released her into the custody of her mother, Nailah Winkfield, as per court order, Durand said in an email.

On Friday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo said Jahi could be transferred under an agreement with Children’s Hospital and the girl’s mother will be held accountable for developments that could include Jahi going into cardiac arrest.

The Alameda County coroner’s office issued a death certificate for the girl Friday but said the document is incomplete because no cause of death has been determined pending an autopsy.

“They may have issued one but we don’t have it. We don’t think she’s dead,” Dolan said. “We got all the necessary legal paperwork in order to get Jahi out of there.” He said the deal to move the girl came together Sunday.

A court injunction prohibiting Children’s Hospital from removing the ventilator that has kept Jahi’s heart pumping since her Dec. 9 surgery expires at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Dolan wouldn’t specify where the girl was taken but he said “they are going to care for her, respect her and love her. And they’re going to call her Jahi, not ‘the body.””

He told reporters at his office in San Francisco late Sunday that the girl will be getting a feeding tube before she is transferred to a permanent facility.

Dolan asked for privacy for the caregivers because the issue has raised such strong emotions.

“It’s brought out the best in people and the worst in people,” he said. “We’ve had people make threats from around the country. It’s sad people act that way, so for Jahi’s safety and for those around her, we will not be saying where she went or where she is.”

The girl’s uncle, Omari Seeley, told reporters that “we’re very grateful. We’re very proud. We want to thank everyone who supported us, everyone who stood in our corner, everyone who prayed for us, everyone who donated to make this possible. Without you guys, none of this would be possible.”

After spending weeks in a very public and tense fight with the hospital, Jahi’s family does not plan to disclose any more about their plans for her continued care until she is resettled, her uncle, Sealey said Friday.

Jahi went into cardiac arrest while recovering from surgery to remove her tonsils, adenoids and uvula along with bony structures from her nose and throat and palate tissue. Three doctors have declared the girl brain dead based on exams and tests showing no blood flow or electrical activity in either her cerebrum or the brain stem that controls breathing.

Multiple outside doctors and bioethicists observing the case have confirmed that a patient in that condition meets the legal criteria for death and has no chance of recovering.

The hospital that has sought to remove the girl from a ventilator refused to fit her with a feeding tube or a breathing tube that would help stabilize her during a move, saying it was unethical to perform medical procedures on a dead person.

Winkfield, refusing to believe her daughter is dead as long as her heart is beating, has gone to court to stop the machine from being disconnected. She has wanted to transfer Jahi to another facility and hoped to force Children’s Hospital either to insert the tubes or to allow an outside doctor to do the procedures.

Grillo on Friday rejected the family’s move to have the hospital insert the tubes, noting the girl could be moved with the ventilator and intravenous fluid lines she has now. He also refused to compel the hospital to permit an outside doctor to perform the procedures on its premises.

Dolan said Friday the family had located an unaffiliated physician to put in the tubes and that an outpatient clinic in New York that treats people with traumatic brain injures has expressed willingness to care for Jahi.

Hospital spokesman Sam Singer said officials were not informed where the girl was being taken.

“We hope that the family finds peace in this very, very tragic story,” he said.

  • spinnochio

    Corpse on the move. I think I’ll dig up my dead cat from the backyard and carry it around with me. New meaning to be close to your lost ones.

    • The difference between you and this poor girl is that at least she has a heart.

      • spinnagio

        I care more about my dead cat than this family does about their dead daughter.

        • I certainly believe that your relationship with your cat is the closest thing you’ve experienced to a relationship with a child, on that we agree…

          • Jackalack

            That’s quite a loaded statement to make about someone I’m presuming you know nothing about.

  • scallywag

    One has to wonder who will fund Jahi’s ongoing life support and at what cost and what will happen in 3 months time when the family have yet to see Jahi come back to life? Will they continue their plight, ask for more donations and for how long will those donations continue to come and how does one in the end exactly measure the merits of one’s faith in the face of logic and absurdity……?


    • sweetnepenthe

      I sincerely doubt jahi’s body will last three more months. I pray it doesn’t anyway. Her intestines are already rotting and leaking out–they were doing this prior to the body’s being moved from the hospital, according to the court document by Dr Heidi Flori. Some of the cousins are posting on Facebook that the smell is like a “bad chicken”.

      I wish someone could put a stop to this.

      • why? how does it affect you in the least? she can’t feel anything. the body will break down, as you say. Her parents are in agony. Don’t judge if you haven’t walked in their shoes.

        • acumenata

          Why put a stop to it? Because this situation has gone over the top into something that is indecent and disrespectful to the little girl that was. Due to the unbridled actions of her misguided family and their advisors and cohorts, Jahi McMath will forever be remembered not as Jahi McMath, but as the kid whose mother carted her decomposing body around long after she was dead. That’s why.

          • jennifer c jones

            sad but true.

        • sweetnepenthe

          Her parents are dialing for dollars.

          Are you seriously ok with allowing a child’s body to rot and decompose and not be decently buried?

          • HELEN


        • jaydeebee

          Do you not understand that a rotting body is a health hazard? That’s why we, as a civilized culture, bury our dead. That’s why, when Grandma dies, we don’t set her in the corner in her rocker. A dead body is a bio hazard to everyone around it. What are they going to do when the mother finally concedes that she’s dead? Flush her like a goldfish? How would you like to be the funeral home that has to deal with it? It’s getting more disgusting by the hour?

      • MrsCarlton

        I can’t find the info from the cousins or from the other patients that were there that saw the hamburger. Where can I find this info? This isn’t a snarky attempt on my part. I really want to read what they all had to say.

      • helen


    • Clarke Family

      Please don’t forget that Jahi was a human being. Some of you seem to have
      forgotten that. Jahi is a child of God.

      • Perilous

        The only people who have forgotten that Jahi was a human being are her family. This obscenity lies at their feet. This poor little girl’s body is rotting away faster with each passing day and they are insisting that she is “improving.”

        This is a travesty and it needs to be stopped. The parents aren’t grieving, they are psychotic.

        • Clarke Family

          I wish that the family would give her a proper burial
          and move on with their lives also. I simply find
          some of the comments so crude and disrespectful of
          this child’s remains and her memory.
          If her family can’t then at least we can treat her with
          the dignity she deserves. God bless Jahi.

    • Nonya Bizness

      Well as it is now, they said the funds they were asking for were to AIR FLIGHT her out of the hospital, and it turns out she was transported via auto. I wouldn’t donate one penny to them, unless it was for BURIAL.

  • what’s lost in all this discussion is what the hell happened in the first place? Why did she go into cardiac arrest during recovery? What about the parents’ allegations that she wasn’t cared for during recovery, that they weren’t listened to when she started to go into distress? Everyone’s obsessing over this very sad result, but I want to know who’s culpable and how.

    • spinnagio

      Well, since you asked… The family had a real party going on in there, they had her talking and joking. Another parent in the recovery room said the family brought a cheeseburger in for her. Then the entire family suctioned her when she started to bleed.Grandma Sandra Chatman, the LVN, Uncle Omari, the stepfather, and Jahi herself. This is per interviews with Grandma and Uncle Omari.

      • I don’t even know what that means. If they were doing something they weren’t supposed to do, the hospital should have had better protections in place. Where are you getting this information?

        • spinnagio

          The information is out there. There was an interview with Grandmother Sandra Chatman and she talks about all the suctioning. You can find it on Youtube, which is where I saw it. Uncle Omari Sealey has spoken about the entire family suctioning Jahi. No hospital provides security guards to stop non-compliant parents that don’t want to follow protocol.

          • oddly that’s a comfort, because I was scared witless to bring my own children to that hospital.

          • spinnagio

            It’s a great hospital. My neighbor’s child was hit by a truck, and was in a coma. He received wonderful care. My friend’s child was in the ICU there this spring for complications of his sleep apnea, then had his tonsillectomy. He’s healthy and happy.

          • yeah but I’m not finding the same information that you are. That is, I’m seeing the same information – that the family was suctioning her – but don’t see that they were doing anything but desperately trying to deal with a horrendous complication. Clearly the girl was very sick to begin with. The grandmother is an RN and was hip to how the operation was supposed to go and what the recovery should have looked at. Something horrible happened, it may have been something negligent or not, but I see no evidence that the family acted improperly or — more to the original point — that they did anything showing a lack of love and concern. It sounds like a horrific, nightmarish scene and I’m not sure everyone could decide to take a child off life support so quickly.

          • spinnagio

            Sandra Marie Chatman is not an RN, she is an LVN per California’s nursing license check. BIG difference. They fed her a cheeseburger according to another parent who was there, and who is not bound by HIPAA laws. She was talking and joking against post-surgical instructions. The entire family suctioned her. The family had Jahi suctioning herself. What is not inappropriate about all that?

          • she was terrified. she said “I’m swallowing too much mucous” but it was blood. I’m sorry, I don’t know what your issue is or why you’d claim to know they love their daughter less than you love your cat, or why you’d say such things here, but I’m not going to argue about this with you. Sorry, troll. I thank you for the additional information, anyway.

          • I_loathe_disqus

            There was nothing remotely “trollish’ about spinnagio’s rational, factual replies. Your over emotional rantings and obvious ‘chip on the shoulder’ haste to get belligerent with the other poster, however…

          • spinnagio

            Just because you are not sophisticated enough to recognize the truth. You can’t manage information beyond your preconceived notions, even when someone else bothers to explain it to you since you are too stupid to find it on your own. Continue on with your shallow understanding of the world. The world is flat in your eyes.

          • Kniwt Nosnhoj


          • DanaR.N.

            The blood loss is probably what caused the cardiac arrest which led to brain death. If this family was suctioning her then they very well could have torn her sutures and caused this (that or the food they were allegedly giving her). We may never know because an autopsy at this point may be useless.

          • Perilous

            She’s not a troll because you refuse to accept the truth.

          • Nonya Bizness

            OMG. Just because you refuse to see the information, doesn’t mean it’s not out there. Now I’m not saying that the lawyer didn’t have it scrubbed from the net like celebs do, BUT I heard with my own ears, as did my mom, the grandmother, who is an LVN, NOT an RN say”Her mother and stepfather were suctioning her. They don’t work there. They shouldn’t have to do that.” Now put your thinking cap on, head to Google or Youtube,find the info, and stop complaining.

          • Calderdalc

            Dont be scared. there is a lot that is not being told. For one thing the reason she had breathing problems was because she was extremely obese. The surgury was NOT a simple tonsilectomy. It was a very complicated procedure including removing part the bone in the back of her nose. If Mother had put in the same ammount of effort into making her comply witht hte diet & excercise regimen that doctors had ordered forher, she wouldn’t have been in that position to begin with. The hospital cannot defend their actions because of patient confidentiallity.

          • Correct, it wasn’t a just a tonsilectomy, it was also uvulopalatopharyngoplasty and the removal of the nasal turbinates.

            if the Cardiac Arrest happened on general ward, I think there many people who can related that some hospital floors can be understaffed, and have way too many patients to take care for. However, PICU and standard ICU units are not only heavily staffed, but the top of the line staff. I don’t see how RNs would be negligent in PICU, especially someone coming off a complicated surgery with renown problems of sutures rupturing.

            Jahi’s grandmother is a LVN, and she would be screaming for the head RN on the floor, who can call in the calvary at a moment’s notice. Second if there was major blood loss, or Jahi blood pressure was dropping, there would be many alarms going off from the monitors…

            I am sorry for Jahi’s family, but there seemed to be some major pieces of the puzzle missing from their story. The PICU at Children’s may be negligent and understaffed, but there would be many the same exact situations in the PICU at Children’s Hospital..

            It also sounds like the family could had cause the cardiac arrest by the suctioning, they were suctionng so much that Jahi couldn’t breathed.

          • DavidsComments

            This is the first I’ve heard of suggestions that the family may have exacerbated the bleeding problem. I have no idea if it is true or not. But if it is true, it could explain why the family has held their denial for so long. If it is true, the family might be trying to alleviate their guilty feelings by trying to believe Jahi is still alive.

          • Nonya Bizness

            I wouldn’t hesitate to take my child to OCH. Why would I let one brainless family who fed their child a burger immediately after surgery, who now refuses to let the dead child be buried, influence what I know about the hospital?Puhlease. I just hope the hospital doesn’t suffer any more than they already have,since HIPAA prevents them from telling their side of the story.

          • calderdale

            You are so right. As an R.N.(now retired) I dealt with many families like that. I well remember the family who brought in buckets of KFC & complined that I did not make them coffee. I was too busy trying to cat=re for their “loved one” The security guard who saw the problem & tried to help almost got fired when these people complained about us. Families are more trouble that the patients & very dangerous. They will not be told no.

          • Nonya Bizness

            To quote the grandma”Her mother and stepfather were suctioning her. They don’t work there. They shouldn’t have to suction her.”

    • NIKKIwithaheart

      Unfortunately, we won’t know unless an autopsy is done. And from what I’ve read, an autopsy might not even be conclusive now that so much time has passed since her unfortunate demise. All we have right now is the family’s allegations as you’ve said…since the hospital is bound by HIPAA laws, they cannot discuss specifics without the mother’s permission. So while some are quick to blame the surgeon and the facility, we won’t know for sure at this point.

    • fm

      It’s only lost for about 5 minute in these discussions before someone post essentially the same “but what happened with the surgery” comment on all of these boards. Look, the hospital can’t comment, you don’t have the medical record, we won’t know exactly what happened ever. That’s the way these things go.

    • Jewel Markess

      Keep in mind also that it wasn’t as simple a procedure that many newspapers say. It wasn’t just tonsilectomy, she also had adenoidectomy and some tissue in her throat removed. She was also obese that probably doesn’t make it easier.

  • jennifer c jones

    i guess once her body dissolves into a puddle then her mother will finally understand she is DEAD.

  • Kaylee Carson

    ultimately i think the parents are going to regret to prolonging this and feel extreme guilt which may lead to even worse consequences for themselves

    • Jo Daniel

      these people won’t regret anything.they have already said the hospital is responsible because they didnt give her nutrition to survive.soooo they let her starve to death…

  • MrsCarlton

    Well it’s no wonder her family believes she might still be alive with comments like this being said: “On Friday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo said Jahi could be transferred under an agreement with Children’s Hospital and the girl’s mother will be held accountable for developments that could include Jahi going into cardiac arrest.”
    Do dead people go in to cardiac arrest?

    • acumenata

      Yes. Hearts that are kept beating by artificial/mechanical intervention can go into cardiac arrest. All “cardiac arrest” means is that the heart muscle stops contracting effectively and all blood circulation ceases.

      • MrsCarlton

        Understood. Although I do also understand how that might be confusing to her family who associates living (and dying) with a beating heart. Telling that to her family could be seen (to them) as “evidence” that she is still alive.

        • acumenata

          Perhaps. But it is not the court’s responsibility to educate them or adjust their perceptions. The cardiac arrest clause in the transfer agreement was there to clearly disclose a known risk for the record, so that all parties knew what they were agreeing to accept. It used the only appropriate medical terminology that can be used to describe that risk in a legal document. Anything else would be ambiguous, and thus open to challenge in a future complaint.

          Nearly everything medical seems to be confusing to this family. They are taking all kinds of things—including the dreadful manifestations of post-mortem deterioration—as “evidence” that she is still alive. They are beyond educating at this point. Anyone this hellbent on interpreting things in their own unique way, and rigidly believing they are right, needs to live with the consequences.

        • Elizabeth Heisley

          I keep Jahi and her family in my prayers everyday.

  • Lisa Eileen Hern

    My brother was in a persistent vegetative state after a motorcycle crash. He lasted 8 months. He was alive, though on a ventilator, basically just a horrible prognosis for recovery. While Jahi’s condition is definitely different – she is dead and this is beyond a horrible prognosis for recovery – one can only imagine the horror her parents are experiencing right now. There is nothing normal about taking your child to get her tonsils out and being told you have to bury that child. As hard as this is for us to understand, some loving compassion is what this poor family needs. I pray her journey comes to an end soon so that they can commence with their healing. Making fun of these folks is about as cruel and unusual as it gets. I hope nobody has to go through such an awful experience, it is haunting.

    • Jewel Markess

      As people stated – it was not just “getting tonsils out”, it was a complicated procedure which involved 3 separate surgeries. Plus she was obese which didn’t make it easier, and based on the reports, the family did what they weren’t supposed to do like feeding her solid food or making her talk and laugh.

  • Richard Elliott

    I CAN NOT believe some of the heartless comments. Haven’t you ever heard
    family is going through enough and to read some of the harsh comments
    hurts them. I am a Christian and do believe in the power of prayer. It
    is up to our Good Lord — my prayer is that GOD shows you all through
    his grace and power, that he is the almighty, he is the one who has
    command, he is the one with the last word, praying that he lays his hand
    upon our little girl, heals her, comforts her family. Where he shows HE
    has complete dominion. Those who are worthy are those who receive. Take
    time and think of how the family feels reading your horrible comments.
    You don’t know the true condition of this little girl, you only go by
    what science has uncovered, but believe me there is more than science,
    especially when it says on their door “PRACTICE OF MEDICINE”. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    God’s Promises Our precious Lord never promised us an easy road in life.

    God’s Promises
    Our precious Lord never promised us an easy road in life.
    But He promised He’d be with us to help us face the strife.
    He never promised us that we would never suffer grief.
    But He promised He’d be with us to help provide relief.
    He never promised us that we’d never have a broken heart.
    But He promised to be with us to help ease the aching part.
    He never promised us our life would be free of pain.
    But He promised He’d be with us to help ease our suffering.
    He never promised us that our life would be free of stress.
    But He promised He’d be with us to help put our souls at rest.
    He never promised us an abundance of earthly treasures.
    The ones He promised are up above in unbelievable measures.
    God will never break His promises, on that we can depend.
    The most important promise was the Son He was to send.
    By trusting all His promises and by trusting in His only Son,
    We’ll overcome our earthly perils for the battle we have won.

    • JackieK.

      God already spoke…and took Jahi in December….and God has already spoken and answered this family’s prayers…it is called NO. Many times, Christan forget that when things don’t happen the way they want them to, it also means that God is saying no to them. If after a month, and no signs of awakening and other signs of life besides a heartbeat…I would think Christians would start to get the message that God’s will has already been done and that he wanted this child back in heaven. Why do Christians fear death, and hang onto life so much??? Why can’t Christians accept and rejoice that this child is now not suffering and enjoying everlasting life with Christ and God. What is so wrong about dying??

  • There is supposedly a tweet from an uncle that said here on this Facebook page
    Great News!! This is the text of a Tweet sent out by Jahi’s uncle Omari on Friday afternoon.

    Omari @_iamOMARI

    …Jahi is doing very well!! Her condition has really improved since leaving CHO on January 5th…..

    How is this????? Is this a joke?

  • Vickie Crook



Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

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