Faith leaders are rallying around the family of Jahi McMath, demanding not just answers, but an investigation into Children’s Hospital in Oakland.
Jahi is the 13-year-old girl who underwent tonsil surgery two weeks ago and was later declared brain dead. She is on a ventilator for now, and her family is hoping for a Christmas miracle.
A temporary restraining order that is keeping the girl on a ventilator expires Monday, the same day an independent doctor is set to evaluate Jahi’s condition.
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On Tuesday, that family-approved doctor is expected to present his conclusion to a judge. In the meantime, faith leaders accuse the hospital of gross insensitivity, based on claims that doctors made callous statements to the family.
"Whether he or she be a doctor or administrator, when he says, 'she’s dead, dead, dead and we want the court to say no, no no,' it represents a lack of sensitivity," said Rev. Dr. Harold R. Mayberry, Sr. Pastor of First AME in Oakland.
A hospital spokesman denies that those words were ever spoken but said doctors did make it clear that in their opinion, Jahi is dead.
“As medical professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that we don’t create hope where there is none. When one’s brain ceases to function, it never restarts," the chief of pediatrics said in a statement issued Sunday.
Pastor Cheryl Ward of Cheryl Ward Ministries said she disagrees.
"We believe God, that God has the final answer, plug pulled and all, that God will give the final answer to what happens in Jahi’s life," she said.
On Sunday night, a group of faith leaders sent a letter to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’ Malley requesting a formal investigation of the hospital and what happened to Jahi.
They are also accusing doctors and administrators here of being insensitive to Jahi’s family.
Church members gathered outside Children’s Hospital Sunday praying for a miracle that 13-year-old Jahi McMath, who doctors say is brain dead and has no chance of waking up, will do the impossible.
"It makes me feel better because they believe as I do that God has the final say in what happens to my daughter," Jahi's mother Nailah Winkfield said. "And the doctors don’t know everything because if they did, my daughter wouldn’t be brain dead right now."
In an open letter released this weekend, Jahi’s mother says her daughter responds to her touch and still feels warm.
She said, given time, she believes God will wake her daughter up.
“And when she does wake up, she’s going to shake up a whole lot of people that didn’t believe what I believe," Winkfield said. "I swear she will."
The hospital said it is committed to investigating what went wrong in Jahi’s case.
Jahi’s family has organized a march tomorrow, starting at 10 a.m. at the hospital.
They are asking everyone to wear purple, Jahi’s favorite color.