SAN FRANCISCO – The mother of a girl at the center of a medical and religious debate over brain death said she does not regret moving from California to New Jersey so her daughter could receive care after being declared dead.
Nailah Winkfield told reporters Tuesday that she gave up everything for daughter Jahi McMath.
"Everything that I did, from selling my house, to quitting my job, to moving across the country and taking all that time away from my family, it was all worth it," Winkfield said.
She has said doctors declared Jahi dead on June 22 from excessive bleeding and liver failure after an operation to treat an intestinal issue.
Jahi had been declared dead in December 2013 at age 13 after suffering irreversible brain damage during surgery in California to remove her tonsils. A coroner signed a death certificate.
Winkfield refused to accept the conclusion and took Jahi to New Jersey, which accommodates religions that don't recognize brain death.
Winkfield said Tuesday that her daughter grew and went through puberty — evidence she was not dead.
"There's no way in the world that I would be holding onto a corpse for 4½ years," she said.
She also described her final moments with Jahi. Winkfield said she gave her daughter permission to "go" if she was tired, telling her not to worry about her mom.
"I said, 'You have my permission. You can go,'" she said. "I said, 'My husband will see about me, your siblings will see about me. Don't worry.'"
She said Jahi died hours later.
"It's going to be hard without her," she said. "She was a sweet girl."
Jahi will be buried Friday in Hayward, California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported .
Conservative religious groups rallied behind Winkfield and helped raise money for Jahi's continued care.
Winkfield and her lawyers have been trying to rescind the California death certificate as part of a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital where Jahi had her tonsillectomy.