A judge on Thursday gave a hospital permission to take an 11 – month-girl off life support against her family’s wishes in a closely-watched case that has drawn in the state’s attorney general and Texas Right to Life.
The family of Tinslee Lewis plans to appeal the ruling.
Tinslee’s mother, Trinity Lewis, said she was “heartbroken” by the judge’s decision. “The judge basically said Tinslee’s life is NOT worth living. I feel frustrated because anyone in that courtroom would want more time just like I do if Tinslee were their baby,” Lewis said in a statement released by Texas Right to Life, which represents the family.
“I hope that we can keep fighting through an appeal to protect Tinslee. She deserves the right to live,” the mother said.
Texas Right to Life slammed the ruling by a judge in the state’s th judicial district court as sentencing “an innocent 22 – month-old” to death.
Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, where the child is on life support, released a statement saying the decision allows them “to make the most compassionate and medically appropriate decisions for Tinslee as she struggles in pain to survive each day. “
” Our medical judgment is that Tinslee should be allowed to pass naturally and peacefully rather than a rtificially kept alive by painful treatments, “the statement continued. “Even with the most extraordinary measures the medical team is taking, Tinslee continues to suffer.”
Tinslee was born prematurely in February with a rare heart defect. She hasn’t left the Cook Children’s Medical Center since birth.
In July, she went into respiratory arrest and has since been on a machine that replaces the function of her heart and lungs in addition to being on a ventilator. Doctors also believe she is in pain, and said she “requires significant sedation,” the hospital said in a December statement.
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UnderTexas law, a hospital’s doctors, with the approval of the facility’s ethics committee, can end a patient’s lifesaving treatments even if the patient or the family member responsible for making decisions on behalf of the patient objects .
The patient’s family must be given at least 11 days to try to find another hospital to transfer the person to before care is suspended, according to the(Texas Tribune.
Adistrict judge in November orderedthe hospital to continue treatment until at least Dec. 22, and that order was later extended.
Texas Right to Life said in its statement that it “is disappointed that the ruling not only disregarded the Constitution, but also sentenced an innocent – month-old baby to death like a criminal. “
” The – Day Rule has robbed countless patients of their Right to Life and right to due process, “the statement said.
Trinity Lewis said last month that she believes her daughter deserves more of a chance to survive.
” This isn’t Tinslee’s first rodeo. She’s made it this far. I know she’s going to continue to fight for her life, “Lewis said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, both of whom are Republican, side with the family.
“The case of Tinslee Lewis is complex and heartbreaking, and the state will continue to support Ms. Lewis’s exhaustion of all legal options to ensure that Tinslee is given every chance at life, “Abott and Paxton said in a statement Thursday.
” The Attorney General’s office will be supporting an appeal of this case to the Second Court of Appeals. The State of Texas is fully prepared to continue its support of Ms. Lewis in the Supreme Court if necessary, “the statement said.
Cook Children’s Medical Center said it reached out to more than 22 specialized homes and hospitals, none of which would agree to accept Tinslee as a patient.
At a hearing in December, Dr. Jay Duncan, one of Tinslee’s physicians, said that she has undergone at least a half-dozen surgeries, and that her doctors have run out of options to treat her.
He also said she is in pain .
“Changing a diaper causes pain. Suctioning her breathing tube causes pain. Being on the ventilator causes pain,” Duncan said, according toNBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
Duncan said there had been “many, many” conversations with Tinslee’s family about her physical state. “We care a lot about Tinslee,” he said. “We care a lot about her family.”
Cook Children’s echoed this view in a December statement, saying “Our doctors and nurses have done everything humanely possible to save Tinslee’s life. Currently, any care we provide, including feeding, bathing and providing treatments and medication, can cause her little body to experience a medical crisis, which causes even more intervention and pain for her. “
The hospital said Thursday it will continue to provide care for Tinslee for the next seven days.
“We also recognize the family may appeal this decision,” Cook Children’s said following the judge’s ruling. “As they do, we will provide Tinslee the same level of intensive care as we have for her entire life. The decision to end life sustaining care will be decided upon by Tinslee’s care team in close communication with the family, and in accordance with Texas law. “