OAKLAND -- A New York facility that has tried to help Jahi McMath, the Oakland girl declared brain-dead last year, put out a call for back-to-school supplies, bedding and clothes for the teen, saying she was "coming home," and that the New Beginnings Community Center was loading a truck with donations.

But Christopher Dolan, the attorney for the family of 13-year-old Jahi, said the request on the Facebook page of the Medford, New York-based New Beginnings was false and the girl's mother isn't asking for anything but prayers for her daughter.

"The posting was not at their request, and while they appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help, they only ask for your prayers," Dolan posted on the Facebook page.

Jahi McMath
Jahi McMath (Family photo)

The original post was removed a short time later Sunday afternoon.

"Jahi's mother is not asking for any public assistance at this time at all," Dolan said Sunday. "Mom is just caring for her daughter as she always has done."

Jahi was declared brain-dead after a series of operations to remove her tonsils and tissue from her nose and throat in December at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland. She continued to receive feeding and breathing support after the diagnosis as her family engaged hospital officials in a legal battle to keep the girl on organ support.

Following the post on the New Beginnings Facebook page, a few people used the hashtag #scamfam and tweeted that the family was being disingenuous with their request. Dolan countered the attacks.


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"Aware of the negative comments made about her and her daughter, (Jahi's mother Nailah Winkfield) says it's sad that people have such hate in their hearts. She remains grateful for all the prayers and kind thoughts she and her daughter have received," said Dolan.

Calls to New Beginnings founder and President Allyson Scerri were not returned Sunday. The center calls itself a "state-of-the-art outpatient facility designed to provide rehabilitation, management and recovery for community members with traumatic brain injury, physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities or dementia."

In March, about three months after she was declared brain-dead by several doctors, the Oakland girl was taken to Saint Peter's Children's Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She likely went there because a 1991 state law gives patients and their families the right to reject a medical diagnosis of brain death on medical grounds and decide whether to continue organ support. The family still maintains the girl responds to voice commands and touch.

When she was moved, the Alameda County Coroner's office issued a death certificate for Jahi before allowing her body to be released from Children's Hospital Oakland, on the condition that whenever her organs shut down, the family would have to notify the coroner. The coroner had not been notified Sunday, a spokesman said.

While Winkfield reportedly told Dolan she did not ask for support through New Beginnings, she does have a connection to the center.

On Saturday, a local news site posted a story about New Beginnings honoring Jahi's mother and Marvin Winkfield, Jahi's stepfather, at a summer gala in part because they refused to accept doctors' findings and fought the hospital in court, the story says.

At the gala, Nailah Winkfield credited New Beginnings founder Scerri and the center -- which earlier this year agreed to provide around-the-clock care for Jahi -- for helping convince a California judge to sign an order authorizing the child's release from the Oakland hospital, according to the story on RiverheadLOCAL.com, an independent community news website.

Follow Kristin J. Bender at Twitter.com/kjbender.