Girl, 13, Brain-Dead After Routine Tonsil Surgery

Jahi McMath's family wants answers

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 16, 2013 12:56 PM CST

(Newser) – Before Jahi McMath went in for surgery to have her tonsils removed, the 13-year-old's mother assured the nervous girl everything would be OK. "I told her this surgery is to make you better," says mom Nailah Winkfield. But now Jahi is on life support even as her family tries to comprehend what went wrong. The California teen was having her tonsils removed in an attempt to alleviate her sleep apnea, but after the surgery at Oakland Children's Hospital last Monday, something went wrong while she was in recovery. She was initially awake and talking, but within 30 minutes was choking on her own blood and couldn't speak, NBC Bay Area reports. She continued to bleed from her nose and mouth, KTVU reports.

"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," Winkfield tells ABC Local. Adds Jahi's grandmother, herself a nurse at a different facility, "I went in and I said 'is this normal, do you guys find this to be normal?' And they said 'I don't really know,' and I said 'well then get a doctor.'" An uncle claims that the family had to suction the blood themselves when no staff immediately responded. Jahi ultimately went into cardiac arrest, and though she was revived, she is now brain-dead. The family, which says hospital staff is pressuring them to turn off life support, wants an investigation. Doctors say the teen is not expected to recover, CBS Local reports.

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