Published February 20, 2014
Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain dead after complications from tonsil surgery, is reportedly doing “much better physically.”
In her first public update in over a month, Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, released a letter on Facebook informing her followers of Jahi’s status, stating that she sees changes in her daughter that “give [her] hope.” Winkfield said she has spent the past month focusing on Jahi’s health, and she had to withdraw from the public eye for safety and privacy reasons.
In the letter, Winkfield also thanked everyone who had supported her as she fought to move her daughter to another medical facility.
“Because of your unselfish generosity I was able to do what I was afraid I would never be able to do, move my daughter from Children's Hospital Oakland before they removed her from her ventilator and stopped her heart,” Winkfield wrote. “This was itself a miracle. Please know that all of the support we received has been used towards helping Jahi.”
In January, Jahi was at the center of an intense legal battle between her family and Children’s Hospital Oakland in California. Although experts at the hospital had declared Jahi brain dead, her family refused to have her removed from life support and fought to have her transferred to another hospital. After raising nearly $50,000 in private donations, the family eventually had Jahi moved to an unidentified long-term care facility.
Winkfield said that the intense media response surrounding her family’s legal struggle ultimately helped to raise awareness of Jahi’s condition.
“I also want to thank those who felt the need to go public with their opinions about me and my daughter, positive and even negative,” Winkfield wrote. “It is because of you that my daughter's experience is so relevant and that people all over the world know who Jahi Mcmath is. What you may not know is that her name, Jahi, means one who is known by many. Hopefully my daughter can change some of the ways brain death is viewed in today's society. Honestly, I think she already has.”
Many medical experts have argued that being brain dead essentially means being dead, and it may be just a matter of time before Jahi’s body functions shut down completely. According to Dr. Paul Vespa, director of neurocritical care at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has no role in Jahi's care, brain-dead people may look like they're sleeping, but it's "an illusion based on advanced medical techniques."
Click for more from Nailah Winkfield’s Facebook.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.