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Jahi McMath, 13, Declared "Brain Dead" After Tonsillectomy

Jahi McMath, 13, of Oakland, was declared brain dead after routine surgery. Her family is now demanding answers.

Jahi underwent a tonsillectomy at Oakland Children’s Hospital on December 9. The common procedure, in which the patient has his or her tonsils removed, was to treat Jahi’s sleep apnea.

After waking up from the tonsillectomy, Jahi appeared normal, speaking with her family and asking for a popsicle. Just thirty minutes later, Jahi McMath could no longer speak and began writing notes to her mother reading, “I’m swallowing too much mucus. Am I O.K.? Mom, I feel like I’m choking.” However, Jahi couldn’t speak because her throat was filling with blood, not mucus. Jahi began coughing up “buckets of blood” in the hospital room. A relative claimed that they could not find any medical staff to help, during what seemed to be a shift change. The relatives began suctioning blood themselves, as Jahi’s grandmother works as a nurse in another hospital. Jahi went into cardiac arrest and was later declared brain dead. The hospital is now asking the family to consider removing her from life support. The family has refused.

Jahi McMath’s family is claiming that an error was committed by Oakland Children’s Hospital, before, during, or after surgery. A spokesperson for the hospital announced that they are “currently reviewing the case and we do not have enough information to make any further statements at this time.”