Brain-Dead Girl to Receive Honorary Diploma: Uncle

The uncle of an Oakland teen who became the subject of national headlines last year when she was declared brain-dead after a tonsil surgery wants his niece recognized at her former school’s upcoming graduation.

And it seems like he got his wish. On Wednesday, Jahi McMath's uncle Omari Sealy tweeted that his niece's school will give an "honorary 8th-grade diploma for Jahi to a family member."

Sealy did not return a phone call, and neither did the school's chief operating officer, Lisa Blair.

But that solution is likely to appease Jahi's family, who has largely stayed out of the public spotlight since the family won a court order allowing them to keep the teen on life support and move her to an undisclosed location, despite declarations from doctors that the girl was legally dead.

Sealy, who frequently spoke on behalf of the family during the court fight, took to social media this week to voice complaints that EC Reems Academy of Technology and Arts had not been planning to include the teen in its graduation program.

“The school said they received too many complaints about displaying anything about Jahi McMath….Really????”  Omari Sealy tweeted on Tuesday.

Then, on Wednesday, he tweeted again: "All we want is to hear her name called like the other students crossing the stage. We dont (sic) want any special tribute or ceremony."

On the family's Facebook page, a message posted Tuesday evening says that 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 says "she deserves to receive the graduation certificate as she has completed most of the 8th grade work."

Blair declined to speak about the issue in a phone interview early Wednesday. Outside school, she briefly said, "We love her dearly." But apparently, there seemed to be some sort of resolution between Blair and the family during a scheduled noon phone call on Wednesday.

In a January interview with NBC Bay Area, Blair said she had been trying to honor Jahi’s family wishes by telling students at the close-knit public charter school that their classmate may still be alive, even though doctors declared her legally and clinically dead about six months ago. She said she was close with Jahi's family, as sister graduated from there, and her younger brother currently attends.

Jahi was an 8th grader at EC Reems Academy when she went into Children's Hospital for surgeries to correct her sleep anpea in December 2013.  She experienced complications after the surgery and was later declared brain dead. Her family fought to keep her breathing on machines, and eventually won a court order to move her to an undisclosed location.

In March, Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield, told NBC Bay Area that she stays by the side of her daughter, who she described as "asleep." Jahi's exact condition and whereabouts have been kept private by her family.

Early Wednesday, Sealy wrote on Instagram post set to the song "You're My Angel" that this new struggle to get Jahi recognition has been very "emotional" for him.


NBC Bay Area's Stephanie Chuang, Shelby Hansen and Telemundo's Lucero Benitez contributed to this report.

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