Family of California brain-dead teen lobbying for girl to receive honorary diploma

By Amanda Holtzer,

The family of California teen Jahi McMath is urging the E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts to give the girl an honorary diploma during the school’s eighth grade graduation. Jahi was declared brain-dead in December after a complex surgery to remove her tonsils.

At the age of 13, Jahi was admitted to the Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland on Dec. 9, 2013, to have her tonsils removed. After the surgery, she began to bleed profusely. She went into cardiac arrest and suffered brain swelling. After three days of complications, she was declared brain-dead.

Jahi’s eighth grade class is now preparing to graduate Friday. NBC Bay Area reports that a message was posted Tuesday evening on the family’s Facebook page that read, “Jahi should be graduating from the 8th grade this month but it may not be possible for her to make it to the ceremony, as she is fighting to recover.”

The post also says, “She deserves to receive the graduation certificate as she has completed most of the 8th grade work.”

Jahi has been moved to an undisclosed care facility as she is in recovery, but her family has not disclosed the exact condition of her health.

"I don’t use the word ‘brain-dead’ for my daughter," her mother, Nailah Winkfield, told NBC Bay Area in March, reports The LA Times. "I’m just waiting and faithful that she will have a recovery. She is blossoming into a teenager before my eyes."

Her family has fought in state and federal court to keep Jahi on life support, and is now fighting for her to receive recognition as a hard-working eight grade graduate.

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