Why Jahi McMath's mom is sure her daughter isn't brain dead- WHAS ABC


Why Jahi McMath’s mom is sure her daughter isn’t brain dead


Months earlier, Jahi McMath, then 13, had been declared brain dead and become a household name as a legal battle to take her off life support was splashed across headlines nationwide.

(ABC News) – Nailah Winkfield said she will never forget giving her teenage daughter permission to die as she lay motionless and on a ventilator.

Months earlier,** Jahi McMath, then 13, had been declared brain dead and become a household name as a legal battle to take her off life support was splashed across headlines nationwide. Winkfield and her family won the battle and moved Jahi from California to a long-term care facility in New Jersey,** but on this particular day, Winkfield didn’t think her daughter wanted to hold on any longer, she said.

“You have my permission to go. I don’t want you here if you’re suffering,” Winkfield recalled telling Jahi, her voice breaking. “If you can hear me and you want to live, move your right hand.”

To Winkfield’s shock, Jahi obeyed, she said. So Winkfield asked her to move her left hand. She did that, too, Winkfield said.

“That was the first time I knew that she could hear me,” Winkfield said. “It took me to cry for her to move.”

Michelle Malkin summarizes the story well in her story as well if one wants a more abbreviated version.

As Winkfield recently described in an open letter to supporters, “Jahi is physically stable. All of her organs are fully functional [and] her skin is flawless.” After inspecting her latest medical records,* two respected neurologists testified in sworn declarations that she is not brain dead. Video released by her family shows her moving her arm and foot on command.*** A recent MRI showed severe brain damage, “but it also shows brain structure and blood flow,” Winkfield noted.

*One year after callous and overconfident members of the medical and media establishments wrote Jahi’s life off, the now 14-year-old girl is surrounded by the love and care of her mom, dedicated medical professionals, and vigilant advocates for life.

Lawyer Christopher Dolan continues to battle the state of California to reverse the “brain death” designation in court. Volunteers maintain a Facebook page to share updates on Jahi’s progress. And with the help of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, Life Legal Defense, Angela Clemente & Associates, The Wrongful Death & Injury Institute, New Beginnings, and others who helped transfer her away from death-wish docs in California, Jahi will mark Christmas this year at a long-term-care facility in New Jersey.*


Cannot help wondering what her future quality of life will be.


That is inspiring…it remind’s me of Terri, who was worse off, but I think she was not 100% brain dead either…obviously that’s not the correct term…

Witholding food and water is inherently evil and against Catholic teaching.

Science is progressing, and this girl is young, only God has the right to take her life, no one else.


It’s odd, isn’t it? The so-called “progressives” are less and less willing to preserve the lives of their brethren, even though technology is making it easier and more likely.


I think it’s because the “progressives” are Social Darwinists for lack of a better term.


The girl is dead and that is a medical fact. Putting her corpse on “life” support only slows the rate of decomposition.


Medical FACT??? C’mon Napoleon.

So you’re stating that which of the below:

a) the girl did not squeeze the hand of the mother upon questioning.
b) it was some sort of anomalous muscle twitch that was random.
c) you don’t care for the observable empirical data, but it was still a “medical fact”.

Am I missing something??


Yes, and that was very well established both by the hospital and the independent expert in neurology during the original court case. Of particular note was that her corpse was already showing early signs of decomposition even then. It is only a matter of time before they are externally visible.


Must have just been an oversight, but you did not answer my question.


What are you missing? A lot, but its difficult to explain without using medical jargon. The movements Jahi’s corpse makes is called a “Lazarus reflex” and they are involuntary. These are not uncommon in dead bodies and are caused by random or even externally triggered spinal motor and sensory neuron activity. You could even do a patellar reflex test on a brain-dead corpse and see the same result as you would in a living person. Why? Because the neurons which control your motor reflexes are located in your spinal column, not your brain.


And how do you know I am not dead and just a bunch of randomly firing neurons? I could be, you know, it fits your theory.

Sorry, but if you’r trying to convince me, you’re going to have to do better than that. I’m not read really on this whole situation, but are you now saying that you know better than the doctors that have since judged her to be severely brain injured? Or are you saying that severely brain injured people are dead or as good as dead? Again, I’m asking.


It doesn’t fit my “theory” for obvious reasons.

That is what an attorney has stated but I have not seen anything from any respected neuroscientist declaring her to be brain-injured rather than brain dead. Since you’re not familiar with the case then I suggest reading the assessment of the hospital and the independent neuroscience expert from earlier this year first.


I concede that you might be correct. I will (would) have to look more into the case, and I’d like to see some images of the brain scans that were done on her to come to the conclusions that were reached.

And what about you yourself, have you looked further into this assertion?

” After inspecting her latest medical records, two respected neurologists testified in sworn declarations that she is not brain dead.


It’s B. Here’s an except from a report by a certified registered nurse anesthetist who watched the short videos of the event provided by the family’s law firm:

The two video snips provided by the Dolan Law Firm, IMO, are not comprehensive enough to demonstrate anything except that Jahi’s body has random spasmodic movements of a hand and foot. We have no context, and nothing to compare these video snips with—for all we know, her body may make random spasmodic movements all day long, and the video with mother coaching is simply “timed” to the spasmodic movements. Nailah Winkfield herself said that hours and hours may go by with no movements, then between 1 and 3 am there is more activity. Nailah Winkfield interprets this as Jahi being “more awake”—however, the time of day could simply be a rhythmic response. We have no idea how many times Nailah Winkfield has encouraged Jahi to move, and Jahi has not responded. There simply is not enough information in those brief video snips to make any determinations beyond spasmodic movments of the extremities, which is well known in both brain damaged, spinal cord damaged, and brain dead individuals. Like the Lazarus sign (google it), it is impressive to watch in isolation, without proper context or interpretation, which, IMO, is why they used these snips. One snip is from May 20 of this year—were there no more recent video opportunities?

Everyone wishes that this tragedy did not happen to this young girl, but spasmodic muscle movements are insufficient to say that Jahi is truly alive. She’s not.



The two doctors, Dr. Machado and Phillip Defina, espouse ideas about total brainstem functioning that are pretty far afield from today’s medical and scientific beliefs. (See previous link)


The video released showing Jahi moving her hand twice is oddly compelling supporting she is not truly dead. If you look closely at the end of the video she drops what is in her hand but then she actually lifts her hand from the side of the bed and her fingers move.This is most interesting as spinal reflexes are characterized by mechanical movements such as the laazarus sign which is an odd movement seen when people are removed from vents.It consists of lifting the arms slightly bending the elbows and crossing the hands over the chest.Oddly this same movement has been recognized in developing fetuses via cameras. The most common movement is twitching of the fingers which Jahi is obviously not doing. Also of finterest is a scan done at Reutgers showing she does have some blood flow to her brain.

Sad to say our brain death laws are over 30 years old and have not kept up with medical advances.


So what you are saying is a person can be dead and decomposing yet still heal from 3 complex surgeries without having any nutrition or antibiotics? A far as Dr Floris report goes she also attributed jahis increase in movements to better muscle tone! Really dead people can get fit?


And what you don’t say is that they are respected doctors in their field of research.

An army veteran of the first Gulf War himself, Dr. DeFina and his team have been successful in awakening over seventy individuals from coma and from minimally conscious or vegetative states; seven of those were injured soldiers, and some have even returned to work or school. Dr. DeFina has used various treatments with success, such as electronic brain stimulation and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. He realizes the importance of the electrochemical balance in the brain.** Dr. DeFina wants to reverse the thought that there is no hope for traumatic brain injury patients.**


So apparently, Dr. DeFina has some real success and wants to change the way people think versus those who think others should be left to die. (see link)

Dr.DeFina and his team have successfully awakened over 70 individuals from coma and from minimally conscious and vegetative states. If this is being “far afield”, I’ll take it.

But nevertheless, thank you for the “blog” entries.


“The family maintains that Jahi responds to voice commands and touch. The new court documents say the teen has entered into puberty and started her menstrual cycle.”


So this could get interesting alright, whether one could be brain-dead but do the underlined, I don’t know.


It might worth knowing that “brain-death” as the criteria for death, period, is a legal term, not really a clinical one. The point at which an human being actually “dies” is still not fully understood by biological science.

Case in point: anencephaly. Granted, an anencephalic baby is not likely to live for long outside the womb, even with medical care. Over half are miscarriages. But somehow, even without a brain, some are not stillborn. Curious, isn’t it? And actually, there have been parents to some few anencephalic babies that have managed to keep them alive for at least a few years.

So, a bit short-sighted, methinks, to attribute medical or biological power to a purely legal term.

All this being said, all this talk requires prudence in judging the difference between ordinary and extraordinary healthcare. I do not think doctors have the right to stop the parents of a supposedly brain-dead child from keeping the child alive, if they want and it will not prove a harmful burden to them or to their other children and dependents. But I am not decided on the necessity of keeping the brain-dead alive at our current level of technology. It seems like a coin-flip to me. People have come back from “brain death”. But are the chances likely? … I doubt it.

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