Jahi McMath, who was declared brain-dead in 2013 after routine tonsil surgery, sparking a years-long legal battle, has died.
McMath — who was 13 at the time of the procedure — died on June 22, her family’s attorney, Christopher Dolan, said.
"Jahi died as the result of complications associated with liver failure," Dolan said in a statement to CNN. "A preliminary Abstract of Death (Death Certificate) was completed by the hospital physician treating Jahi listing her cause of death as bleeding as a result of hepatic (liver) failure.”
In the statement, Dolan and the child’s family continue to assert that the Oakland, Calif. Children’s Hospital where the teen was treated should be held responsible for her outcome.
“(The death certificate) notes that Jahi had been suffering from an anoxic brain injury for 4 years,” Dolan continued. “Anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen. Jahi suffered an anoxic brain injury as the result of severe blood loss after surgery at Children's Hospital Oakland in December of 2013 when medical staff failed to treat Jahi or summon a doctor after she had undergone surgery on her tonsils, adenoids and soft palette to address a condition known as apnea."
McMath underwent surgery on December 9, 2013, getting her tonsils, adenoids and extra sinus tissue removed to treat pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. The condition would make her stop breathing in her sleep.
After surgery, the teen was recovering in intensive care when she went into cardiac arrest as a result of excessive bleeding, and by December 12, she was declared brain-dead.
But her family did not agree with the doctors’ definition of death, leading to a legal battle between the two sides. A judge sided with the hospital after several months, prompting McMath’s care team to remove McMath from a ventilator. Children’s Hospital Oakland released the teenager to her family instead, who still would not accept the medical and legal ruling that she would not recover.
Jahi McMath, an Oakland teenager whose brain-death following a routine tonsil surgery in 2013 created national headlines, died on June 22, family attorney says https://t.co/Ho2D4nqbWM
— CNN (@CNN) June 29, 2018
McMath was brought to an undisclosed location in New Jersey where she died last week at 17 among her mother, Nailah Winkfield, stepfather Marvin Winkfield and sister, according to the statement. She will be buried in California.
Winkfield is "devastated by the loss of her daughter who had showed tremendous strength and courage."
"My daughter knew I was there and that I loved her, I knew she was there and that she loved me too," Winkfield said. "It is tragic that only now, after her death can I bring my daughter home."
The family lawyer said that he will continue his pro-bono work "through the federal civil rights case which was filed in the Northern District of California to have her hastily prepared death certificate reversed, and her date of death established as June 22, 2018."