Routine Tonsil Surgery Leaves Girl, 13, Brain Dead

Updated 10:48 a.m., Dec. 17: KTVU reports that Jahi McMath will be taken off life support today (Dec. 17). She is currently brain dead and is being kept alive on life support.

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A 13-year-old California girl is brain dead and on life support after undergoing a routine tonsil surgery.

On Monday, Dec. 9, Jahi McMath went to Oakland Children’s Hospital to have her tonsils removed in an effort to relieve her sleep apnea. But during her recovery, she began experiencing abnormal complications.

"My daughter had actual clots sliding out of her mouth and they gave me a cup and said, 'Here catch them with the cup so we can measure them,’” McMath’s mother Nailah Winkfield told KGO-TV.

On Thursday, Winkfield faced every parent’s nightmare as her daughter’s complications escalated.

"My daughter went into cardiac arrest and died and they brought her back and now she's brain dead," said Winkfield, who is now demanding that Oakland Children’s Hospital conduct an investigation into the procedure.

The hospital announced in a statement that it will be going forward with an investigation but did not comment on the specifics of the procedure or complications during recovery.

“We're very sad about this outcome, about what's happened to her, but at this point I have no information on the details of the surgery,” hospital spokesperson Melinda Kriegel said. “We will certainly investigate what happened. In any surgery there are risks and there can be unexpected, unanticipated complications."

McMath’s grandmother Sandra Chatman, a veteran nurse at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, expressed frustration with the hospital’s handling of the post-procedure complications.

"I went in and I said 'Is this normal, do you guys find this to be normal?'” Chatman said. “And they said 'I don't really know,' and I said 'Well then get a doctor.’”

McMath’s uncle Omari Sealey believes the hospital failed his niece with an untimely response to her symptoms.

"There was a lack of urgency," he said. "It's shock, it's disbelief. You never think something like this will happen to you."

He also told KTVU that McMath told her mother before undergoing the procedure that she thought "something bad is going to happen to me."

According to the family, the hospital has been pressuring them to take McMath off life support, but they are holding out for hope.

"They just have a social worker follow me around all day long asking me 'Do you have any other family that needs to see her?' like trying to put a rush on it," she said.

"As long as she has a pulse, we want her on life support," Sealey added. "We want her to come home for Christmas. We want to give her presents. We want a chance for a Christmas miracle."

Missing Children