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Jahi McMath's family to hold rally, march in Oakland

The family of an Oakland girl who's on a ventilator after a tonsillectomy will hold a rally in front of Children's Hospital.
December 22, 2013 6:17:34 PM PST
Hope remains for a Bay Area family whose daughter was declared brain-dead by doctors. They believe a second opinion this week will help keep her on a ventilator.

Jahi McMath went in for a tonsillectomy in earlier this month. Doctors say there were complications. They declared her brain-dead 10 days ago. The 13-year-old's family believes Jahi is still alive and they'll get a second opinion next week.

On Sunday night the parents joined members of the community to pray for a positive outcome.

"We are saying when you are wrong, you are wrong," Reverend Gerald Agee said.

That message is being sent by local faith leaders to Children's Hospital. The group of pastors is standing behind the family of 13-year-old Jahi, who is still on life support. The group is demanding the Alameda County district attorney investigate the case. They also want hospital officials to treat the family with more respect.

"It is important that this hospital to understand how insensitive they have been towards this family, a family who is struggling with a potential devastating situation and getting what amounts to very little sympathy from hospital," Reverend Harold Mayberry said.

"You don't need a judge to tell you you're wrong," Reverend Agee said. "You need to do the right thing and give this family every opportunity to explore every possibility of remedy."

On Friday, Jahi's family was granted a temporary restraining order to keep her on life support until an independent neurologist can examine her to determine if her brain is showing signs of activity.

The independent doctor, approved by the family of McMath and the hospital, will perform a brain examination on Monday. The next day, the court and family-approved doctor will present the findings of his examination to the judge.

The hospital declared her brain-dead after complications arose following a routine tonsillectomy about two weeks ago. Jahi's mother Nailah Winkfield is asking for more time.

"If you believe that she'll wake up just as well as I do," she said. "I talk to God every day and I just tell him have your way with my daughter. Please, I think he's using her for something. And when she do wake up she's going to shake up a whole lotta people around here who didn't believe."

In a written response, the chief of pediatrics at Children's Hospital David Durand, MD, said, "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."

Winkfield also released an open letter detailing her grief. She wrote, "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."

The 13-year-old's family tells ABC7 News they will hold a march and rally on Monday at 9:30 a.m. outside Children's Hospital. The family says their gathering will be peaceful and lawful.

"Jahi's favorite color is purple. So if you can come out wearing a purple shirt, it doesn't matter what shade it is. But if you have a purple shirt, please wear it and march with us Monday morning," Sealey said.

ABC7's Dan Ashley spoke to Jahi's mother for a one-on-one interview you'll see only on ABC7 News.

"But I'm grateful just to have those three more days with her," said Nailah Winkfield. "But it is hard because I feel like I'm just on borrowed time with my daughter. I will fight for my daughter until I can't fight anymore and I don't know when a mother loses a fight for her children."

To watch the entire interview, click here.


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