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
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

(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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Dec 21, 2013 5:23 AM CST
Nursing staff asking family to cope with uncontrolled bleeding? No doctor available? This poor girl could have gotten better medical care at a veterinary clinic.
Dec 21, 2013 12:21 AM CST
Maybe the parents shouldn't have been suctioning the girls mouth themselves right after surgery. Hospitals are understaffed and nurses are overworked. They probably had another patient or 2 on the floor and couldn't get in there right that minute that the family wanted so they took it upon themselves to suction her mouth which probably loosened the clots and led to increased bleeding. Measuring the amount of blood and clots after surgery is normal, so collecting it for observation was proper procedure. And, do we think that maybe the parent's and grandparent's statements regarding what the nurses "said" could be slightly embellished? I don't know of any nurse that would just say " I don't know" to a patient; especially a nurse trained to deal with this level of acuity (PACU). There are special training courses beyond the normal required RN training to work in these areas. I assure you the nurses knew what they were doing, they just didn't do it fast enough for the family so the family thought they'd just do it themselves. Sometimes you have to wait a minute for things (I know hard to believe in this instant gratification society). Bleeding after that surgery is normal. Maybe they needed to be better educated on what to expect in the immediate post-surgical period so they wouldn't have been so panicked by the fact that blood was coming out of her mouth. Wounds bleed, don't poke things around the wound, especially with something that is suctioning... I'm not saying it's all one person's fault, but please if you have a loved one in the hospital, look around, take note of how hard the nurses are working. When you think they are just sitting around playing on a computer, they are charting your loved ones progress, response to medications, receiving new orders for their care, communicating with the doctors, and documenting care given so that your family member can be cared for safely. Be patient, in most cases, they know more about what is going on with your loved one than you do.
Dec 17, 2013 7:47 PM CST
This is why God made lawyers. If left up to Republican proposed laws on tort reform, the family would get a Hallmark Sympathy card and a lollipop for their troubles. Lawyers should sue the hospital and doctors until they bleed green!