FFT 1/4: Social Media barrage mask similarities between Jahi McMath and Jesse Koochin medical cases

Photo Credit – afro.com
Picture of 13-year-old Jahi McMath

Food For Thought 1/4/13
By: Monica RW 

“Nearly everyone on the internet has instantly became a medical expert, parent and virtual provider of 13-year-old Jahi McMath. Or so they thought.”

On December 9, less than three weeks before Christmas day, a tragedy occurred Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California. Jahi McMath, a 13-year old child of Nailah Winkfield. entered the medical facility for a reported tonsillectomy surgery. 

Initial plans for Jahi’s care likely included an overnight stay at Oakland Children’s Hospital with additional recovery time in her mother care. Instead, in the aftermath of Jahi’s surgery something went terribly wrong.

Three days later on December 12, two doctors affiliated with the pediatric care facility declared Jahi clinically brain dead. No signs response to brain stimuli consisting of the child breathing without ventilatory support, a gag reflex or eye pupil movement in response to light was found on Jahi’s behalf.

The hospital quickly moved to force the McMath family to accept three physicians findings in order to remove Jahi McMath from life support within a 24 to 72 hour period thereafter.

Nailah Winkfield did not accept Oakland Children’s Hospital personnel findings describing Jahi’s fate. Neither the family of did Jesse Koochin when Primary Children’s Medical Center of Salt Lake City, Utah declared their child brain dead.

The barrage of attacks experienced by Jahi McMath’s family on social media in particular was non-existent in the Koochin’s equality controversial mid-October 2005 case.

Jesse Koochin suffered from an inoperable cancerous brain tumor. The Koochin family

Photo Credit – sltrib.com
Photo of 6-year-old Jesse Koochin

sought alternative treatments for Jesse condition inclusive of flying the child to Mexico after his initial diagnosis in April of 2005, seeking receipt of the proper medical care to keep their child alive.

In September 2005, the Koochin family brought their son Jesse to Salt Lake City for treatment with alternative medicine.

The practitioner said the child was too ill and subsequently sent the family to Primary Children’s Medical Center for further treatments.

The Deseret News told Jesse’s story on November 20, 2004, after the child and his family lost the battle to keep the little boy heart beating and breathing at home by medical ventilator machine assistance.

In mid-October, doctors at Primary said that his tumor had grown so large it broke through the base of Jesse Koochin’s neck, cutting off blood to his brain and effectively killing him.  

Two doctors in separate protocols determined that Jesse met the criteria for brain death, but the Koochins continued to hope for a miracle.

The family succeeded in getting a court order to prevent Primary Children’s Medical Center from declaring the boy brain dead and removing his life support. Third District Judge Sheila McCleve issued a temporary restraining order giving control of his medical care to Steve Koochin and his wife, Gayle, and preventing the hospital from turning off the respirator. 

The Koochins had him removed from the hospital, still on life support, and taken to their home where they’ve cared for him for the past month with some help from a hospice agency.” 

Jesse Koochin passed one month after his family won the right to remove the child from Primary Children’s Medical Center care in Utah, to home in the Koochin’s care.”

As noted by the Deseret Morning News, hospice care and a ventilation support was provided to the Koochin family until Jesse heart stop beating on its’ own. The little boy whose family fought against mandates of doctors to end his life supportive measures, passed on from this Earth without the pressures of his family every move being held to scrutiny by every overnight medical expert on the world wide web.

In constant, Jahi McMath family has not received the same amount of respect or time for reflection and ultimately acceptance of the child current medical condition.

From the moments after Jahi’s story hit media outlets, the McMath family has been accused directly causing Jahi to become overweight in comparison to other children her age to pushing up to keep Jahi alive for future monetary gains by a lawsuit against Oakland Children’s Hospital.

Hospice care and a ventilation support was provided to the Koochin family until Jesse heart stop beating on its’ own. The Koochin family fought against mandates of doctors to end his life supportive measures until Jesse peacefully passed on. Without pressures of his family every move being held to scrutiny by every overnight medical expert on the World Wide web.


The Health Information Privacy law widely known as HIPAA prevents Oakland Children’s Hospital from commenting in details of Jahi’s medical conditions before December 9 surgery.

Jahi’s McMath family updates on the case have been forwarded primarily from family attorney Christopher Dolan, a spokesperson and Jahi’s Uncle Omari Sealy or at times the child’s mother Nailah Winkfield.

On Friday, January 3, a hearing before Superior Court of Alameda County Judge Evelio Grillo concluded Friday with the family of Jahi McMath and a hospital agreeing on a protocol for the release of the girl to her family under unknown conditions.


The specifics any such release including how Jahi would be transferred, to whom, and at what time are still left undetermined as the McMath family brace for the Judge December 30 ruling barring Oakland Children’s Hospital from removing the child from life support until 5pm Eastern Standard Time January 7.

During the hearing, the judge asked attorneys for the McMath family and Children’s Hospital Oakland meet with a federal court magistrate in attempt to settle the issue of what will happen with Jahi.

Ironically, as the legal proceedings continued, the coroner office of Alameda County, California issued a death certificate for Jahi. The death certificate which still needs to be accepted by Alameda County department of health to be official the coroner office states, has a date of death of December 12, 2013.


Jahi McMath and Jesse Koochin presents two cases where the parents experienced what 

psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described in the 1969 publication titled ‘On Death and Dying‘ regarding five stages of grief — acceptance.

In the Koochin’s case, Primary Children’s Medical Center of Utah declaration of son Jesse brain death was not enough to force his family to remove the child from his ventilator.


Ultimately Jesse died on his and the Koochin family own terms, at home. 


The social media barrage on how and when Jahi McMath family accept the fate she might face has been downright unusual, cruel and borderline racist in statements about mother 

Nailah Winkfield true motives.

As in the case of Jesse — Jahi family should be allowed the proper time for moving to the acceptance stage of grief without scrutiny experienced on a Facebook support page effectively titled Keep Jahi McMath on Life Support.

Anyone who has ever had to make a life or death decision for a family member rightfully would demand and respect to receive, the same. 


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