OAKLAND -- More than six weeks after her brain-dead daughter was moved from Children's Hospital Oakland to an undisclosed location, the mother of Jahi McMath broke her silence in a letter released Wednesday on Twitter.
The 13-year-old Oakland girl was declared brain-dead Dec. 12 after when she developed complications following a Dec. 9 tonsil, nose and throat surgery for sleep apnea and went into cardiac arrest. The case drew international attention as the family battled with hospital officials for weeks and then went to court, seeking to keep the girl on a ventilator and to have breathing and feeding tubes surgically inserted.
Weeks of negotiations and courtroom battles between the family's attorney and hospital officials finally yielded a deal to move the girl from the hospital. On Jan. 5, she was taken to an undisclosed out-of-state facility, where her family said she had remained on a ventilator.
Once Jahi was moved on Jan. 5, her family went silent. The letter, released by Jahi's uncle, Omari Sealey, through his Twitter account, thanks those who supported the family through donations and prayer during their ordeal.
"So many people have asked how we are doing and if Jahi is alive," wrote Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield. "This has and continues to be an unbelievably difficult time for me as a mother and for us as a family.
"However, I have not been alone. I have been surrounded by the love, support and prayers of so many kind people. Despite what people say about my daughter being dead and how I must be ignorant not to get that, I can tell you that she is much better physically since she has left Children's Hospital and I see changes that give me hope."
Sealey declined to give specifics on Jahi's condition, or say where she is.
"(Jahi's mother) wanted me to get the letter out because there's been a lot of speculation," Sealey said. "There's been a lot of people, supporters, wanting to know what's going on. We want people to know (Jahi is) OK."
Multiple medical experts have repeatedly said no medical tools or procedures can bring Jahi back from brain death, and that organ failure is likely to occur at some point, even with Jahi on a ventilator and a feeding tube.
In the letter, Winkfield said it was because of supporters' "unselfish generosity" that she was able to move Jahi from Children's Hospital Oakland before doctors there removed her from her ventilator. Thousands of dollars in donations offset the cost of medical transportation to Jahi's new home.
"If I had it my way, I would say thank you to each and every person in their native language so they could understand how much I appreciate them for all their support and, most importantly, prayers," Winkfield wrote.