Mother of Brain Dead 13-Year-Old Says Her Daughter Is 'Not Suffering'

Mother of Brain Dead 13-Year-Old Says Her Daughter Is 'Not Suffering'
Jahi McMath
Courtesy McMath Family and Omari Sealey/AP

updated 02/20/2014 at 05:00 PM EST

originally published 02/20/2014 05:45PM

Jahi McMath is alive and "surrounded by love," according to a letter her mother, Nailah Winkfield, released to supporters via Facebook Wednesday.

"I will never let her suffer," her mother wrote.

The 13-year-old girl was declared brain dead after having tonsil surgery at Children's Hospital Oakland just before Christmas, sparking a battle between her family and the girl's doctors, who wanted to disconnect her from life support.

McMath has since been moved to a long-term care facility in an undisclosed location where she remains on a ventilator.

"I have withdrawn for reasons of safety and privacy," wrote her mother, who hadn't spoken out in a month, "and to focus on my daughter and my role as her mother."

Winkfield, of Oakland, Calif., says she felt compelled to write the letter due to rumors circulating that her daughter had died.

"Despite what people say about my daughter being dead and how I must be ignorant not to get that," she wrote, "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."

Winkfield says she is "truly grateful" to all the supporters from all over the world who have reached out to her.

"Thank you to all of the people who view my daughter as the sweet, innocent, 13-year-old girl that she is," she wrote, "and not a dead body or a corpse."

The name Jahi means "one who is known by many," she wrote.

"Hopefully my daughter can change some of the ways brain death is viewed in today's society," she wrote. "Honestly, I think she already has."

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