Texas Court Rules in Favor of Mother to Keep Baby on Life Support While Doctors Say Child Is Suffering
Eleven-month-old Tinslee Lewis was born with a rare heart defect that doctors believe to be fatal
A Texas appeals court has delayed a judge’s prior ruling to allow Cook Children’s Medical Center to remove an 11-month-old baby from life support.
According to NBC News, The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth ordered the hospital to keep Tinslee Lewis on life support until it makes a final ruling in the case.
The appeal was filed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton after a judge decided the hospital could go through with plans to take Tinslee off of life support.
Tinslee has been at Cook Children’s Medical Center since she was born in February 2019 with a rare heart defect called Ebstein’s anomaly, according to KTVT. The defect, which affects the tricuspid valve — the valve that sits between the two right heart chambers — has left her with lung disease and severe chronic pulmonary hypertension.
Doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center believe Tinslee is in constant pain and won’t be able to recover. “All the things we have to do to keep her alive and well are causing her pain and suffering and we don’t want to do that any longer,” a hospital representative told KTVT.
“She is in pain,” Dr. Jay Duncan told CBS News. “Changing a diaper causes pain. Suctioning her breathing tube causes pain. Being on the ventilator causes pain.”
Kimberlyn Schwartz, a spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, told NBC News that the organization was “grateful and relieved” that Tinslee was given more time.
She also said that Texas Right to Life would continue to contact doctors and hospitals that could potentially help treat Tinslee.
“This gives us so much hope for Tinslee,” Schwartz said. “This is a prayer answered.”
Previously, Judge Sandee Bryan Marion sided with the hospital after Tinslee’s mother, Trinity Lewis, asked for an injunction to keep the hospital from implementing end-of-life proceedings. Cook Children’s Medical Center told CBS that they’d reached out to more than 20 other hospitals to see if any one of them would agree to treat Tinslee, but all believed any further treatment would not improve the baby’s quality of life.
“Today’s decision from Chief Justice Sandee B. Marion restores the ability of the Cook Children’s medical staff to make the most compassionate and medically appropriate decisions for Tinslee as she struggles in pain to survive each day. This is an emotional and difficult situation for everyone involved, especially for this family who had high hopes that Tinslee would get better,” the hospital said in a statement to CBS.
“Cook Children’s has been devoted to this precious baby her entire life, providing compassionate, round-the-clock, intensive care and attention since she arrived at our hospital 11 months ago,” the statement continued. “Her body is tired. She is suffering. It’s time to end this cycle because, tragically, none of these efforts will ever make her better.”
The child’s mother, Trinity Lewis, issued a statement through Texas Right to Life after the ruling.
“I am heartbroken over today’s decision because the judge basically said Tinslee’s life is NOT worth living,” she said, as noted by CNN. “I feel frustrated because anyone in that courtroom would want more time just like I do if Tinslee were their baby. I hope that we can keep fighting through an appeal to protect Tinslee. She deserves the right to live. Please keep praying for Tinslee and thank you for supporting us during this difficult time.”
“This case presents a life-or-death decision,” said Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to KTVT. “The right-to-life and the guarantee of due process are of the utmost importance not only to baby Tinslee and her family, but to all Texans. I will continue to fight for Tinslee and my office will continue to use all necessary resources to ensure that she will not be deprived of her right to live.”
Doctors believe Tinslee will likely die within half a year, according to CBS.