Jahi McMath's mother writes letter about daughter

ABC7's Dan Ashley sat down for a one-on-one interview with the mother of a girl who's on life support following tonsil surgery.
December 21, 2013 7:15:26 PM PST
On Saturday the mother of Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old Oakland girl on life support, released a letter about her daughter.

The letter is titled, "An Open Letter From A Mother To The World Nailah Winkfield." It reads:

"I am a mother. She is my daughter. I am alive. Despite what they say, she is alive. I can touch her, she is warm. She responds to my touch. I can love her - I can feel her love. When she was in my belly I fell in love with her. Her heartbeat for the beginning of her life was my heartbeat until God, through a miracle, sparked her heart into existence. Given time I know he will spark her brain awake.

She is Jahi a name that means known by many. If she knew about all this attention she would blush. She is very shy.

My daughter sits on life support. I feel like she is on death row. The clock is ticking - ticking down. Children's Hospital Oakland says she is dead. She was not dead when I brought her here on December 9th for a routine tonsillectomy. I put her in their hands, now they want to wash their hands of her.

Jahi had an operation. I was told it went well. Then she started bleeding from her mouth. They gave me a cup for her to bleed into and said it was normal. She bled more and more. I couldn't keep up with it. I asked for help, they gave me a bigger bucket. She bled more. They did not answer our pleas for a doctor. Her surgeon never came back. She had a heart attack and her heart stopped beating. Then they came- then. They shocked her back into life. Now they say she is dead.

Before the surgery she said I am scared mommy. I said why Jahi? She said I am afraid I won't wake up. I told her it was going to be fine, it was a simple procedure. I should have listened to her.

She is on a respirator - with air she lives, her heart beats, her kidneys produce urine, she is warm and soft. They have been pressuring me to "pull the plug." I can't. I won't. I can't let them kill my baby a second time.

I am fighting for her life. Each breath the vent gives her one more chance to live and gets her one step closer to the hospital's deadline. What a word. I never thought they could tell me, her mother, they were going to pull the plug take her body to the morgue and send us home on Christmas while she lays in a freezer. She is warm now. I want my baby to be warm. We need time.

The Hospital says she is legally dead. That they can legally stop her breathing. I am not a lawyer. We called many in the middle of the night Monday as they were coming to unplug her Tuesday night. One answered the call. We stopped them. Every day is a struggle. We fight for Jahi. We have a temporary restraining order until Monday - then the Judge can say my baby is legally dead and Children's can unplug her. It doesn't matter what I say. I never thought I would have to go to court to get a hospital to treat my child.

Hold your children tight. Tell them you love them. I tell my daughter over and over. I know she can hear me. If she has any brain activity when they do the independent tests she will be kept alive. Pray for my daughter Jahi, pray that she will get better so they don't kill her. Pray for me, mothers, that my love can bring her life once more."

In response, Children's Hospital Chief of Pediatrics Dr. David Durant released a statement. It reads:

"Our hearts go out to Nailah, her family and the community. We understand the intense grief of a mother who has lost a child. We are committed to fully investigating what caused this catastrophic outcome from this complicated surgery. As medical professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that we don't create hope where there is none. When one's brain ceases to function, it never restarts. We have the deepest sympathy for Jahi's mother who wishes her daughter was alive; but the only thing maintaining this child is a ventilator machine and it would be unfair to give false hope that Jahi will come back to life."

ABC7 News anchor Dan Ashley sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview with Jahi's mother to talk about the horrible ordeal her family is facing. To watch the entire interview, click here.

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