A Texas judge has rejected a family’s request for an injunction in a case involving their 11-month-old daughter on life support since her birth.
The family requested a temporary injunction to stop Cook Children’s Medical Center from removing the baby from life support.
Tinslee Lewis was born with a rare heart defect called Ebstein’s anomaly and has been hospitalized at the Cook Children’s Medical Center located in Forth Worth since her birth in February 2019.
Ebstein’s anomaly occurs due to improper development of the tricuspid valve in the first eight weeks of fetal growth, according to stanfordhealthcare.org.
It can be caused by several factors, though, most of the time, this heart defect occurs sporadically (by chance), with no apparent reason for its development.
As a result, Lewis suffers from chronic lung disease and severe chronic pulmonary hypertension.
Judge Sandee B. Marion of the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals on Thursday gave the Cook Children’s Medical Center the green light to take Lewis off life support against her family’s wishes.
Marion denied a temporary injunction filed by Lewis’ family to keep her on life support for several weeks.
“Our medical judgment is that Tinslee should be allowed to pass naturally and peacefully rather than artificially kept alive by painful treatments,” the Center said in a statement.
“Even with the most extraordinary measures the medical team is taking, Tinslee continues to suffer. To keep her alive, doctors and nurses must keep her on a constant stream of painkillers, sedatives, and paralytics.
“As a result, Tinslee is paralyzed at all times. She currently is suffering from severe sepsis, not uncommon when patients require deep sedation and chemical paralysis to maintain organ function. Even with medication and support, Tinslee has “dying events” 2-3 times per day. When she is in distress, Tinslee crashes and aggressive medical intervention is immediately necessary, which causes even more pain,” the Center added.
“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. 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 case, according to The New York Times, has become a rallying cry for conservative politicians and some religious groups, with Lewis’ mother, Trinity Lewis, receiving legal support from the group Texas Right to Life.
Her family plans to appeal the ruling, the paper reported. Her mother said she was “heartbroken” by the ruling.
“I am heartbroken over today’s decision because the judge basically said Tinslee’s life is NOT worth living,” Ms. Lewis said. “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.”
Lawyer for Ms. Lewis, Joseph M. Nixon had filed a notice of appeal and would file a motion for emergency relief, effectively stopping the hospital from removing Tinslee from life support, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Meanwhile, the hospital agreed not to take any action to remove life support for a week to give Mr. Nixon and his team time to file those motions.
A team of supporters has been trying to find another medical facility that would take Tinslee.
However, according to the Cook Children’s clinical team, “they tried everything they could to help Tinslee improve, including reaching out to more than 20, well-respected healthcare facilities and specialists over the course of several months, but even the highest level of medical expertise cannot correct conditions as severe as Tinslee’s.”