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Family and friends hold vigil for Jahi McMath

on December 19, 2013

OAKLAND- More than 100 people attended a Wednesday night vigil for Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl who has been declared brain dead at Children’s Hospital after undergoing a routine tonsil surgery.

“This is not a funeral,” Pastor Leon McDaniels said at the start of the ceremony, held at Paradise Baptist Church. “We want a medical miracle.”

The church was filled with mothers and fathers carrying children, people straight from work still wearing uniforms and others who heard about the vigil in the news. Church ushers passed out tissue paper.

But the vigil had a hopeful tone at times. The congregation stood and clapped when the pastor said that Jesus was looking over Jahi in the hospital.

Family members have hope, though Jahi has failed two EEG tests, which measures electrical brain activity, since being declared brain dead Dec. 12. She was declared legally dead four days later.

“She will wake up, I don’t have a doubt,” said Nailah Winkfield, Jahi’s mother. “I can’t wait to go to the hospital and tell Jahi how many people came out here and prayed for her.”

Family members said they requested medical records two days ago because they have not been told why there were complications after the surgery. The hospital has told media they do not have permission from the family to talk about the case.

Chris Dolan, the family’s lawyer, told reporters that the family is waiting to hear from the hospital first.

“This family hasn’t heard what’s happened and they don’t want to hear it on the 10 o’clock news,” Dolan said.

Dolan is planning to file an injunction so that the court can decide if Jahi is taken off life support. He is asking that the hospital not take action over the holidays or while the courts are closed.

At the end of the ceremony, people gathered outside to comfort themselves and the family.

“I think everybody need to be here to bond with the family,” said Vindell Gaids Jackson, a friend of Nailah.

Tamika West, who found out about the vigil through a friend, stood outside the church with her three small daughters. “It was good that we all came together to pray for her, I believe a miracle could possibly happen now,” she said.


  1. Danille on December 21, 2013 at 11:56 am

    This is called malpractice. I have been a ICU registered nurse for yrs….and I have seen many things in my yrs of practice and surely I tell you mistakes were made. From the description from the blood post operatively sounds like a vessel was nicked and no intervention was done to stop the bleeding. She went into cardiac arrest from hypotention.

    • harvey on December 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      Thanks for the insight. Let’s see if UCB Graduate School of Journalism removes your comment.

      • harvey on December 28, 2013 at 8:21 am

        I guess the UCB Graduate School of Journalism considers Children’s Hospital of Oakland fair game.

  2. renee on December 30, 2013 at 10:37 pm


    • harvey on January 10, 2014 at 12:21 am

      She is dead.

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