Texas Judge Rules Baby Can Be Removed From Life Support

By Victor Westerkamp

A Texas judge decided an 11-month-old girl can be taken off life support as requested by the hospital’s medical staff but contrary to the family’s and activist groups’ wishes.

Judge Sandee Bryan Marion of the 48th judicial district court in Fort Worth ruled on Thursday that doctors at Cook Children’s Medical Center may terminate life support Tinslee has been on since going into respiratory arrest in July. Tinslee has been in the hospital since her premature birth 11 months ago.

“Our doctors and nurses have done everything humanly possible to save Tinslee’s life,” the hospital noted in a statement. “Sadly, she shows no signs of improvement and there are no treatment options available to help her get better,” according to 5NBCDFW.

After seven surgeries, which included three open-heart surgeries, medical staff feel there is little else they can do for Tinslee, who is suffering from a rare heart defect, a chronic lung disease, and severe chronic high blood pressure.

Texas Infant
Tinslee Lewis shown on life support two months ago. (Trinity Lewis/Handout)

“She is in pain. Changing a diaper causes pain. Suctioning her breathing tube causes pain. Being on the ventilator causes pain,” Dr. Jay Duncan, one of Tinslee’s physicians said in court last month.

In September, the medical staff moved to end life support in November by invoking Texas’ “10-day rule,” which states if the hospital’s ethics commission agrees with the medical staff that the situation is hopeless, and when no other facility can be found to take the patient, they may terminate life support after 10 days.

Hospital officials said they had reached out to over 20 facilities and have made “extraordinary” efforts to find another medical facility for Tinslee, but the medical team agrees that further care is futile.

A successful appeal by Trinity Lewis (Tinslee’s mother) was made on Nov. 10, and Tarrant County Juvenile Court Judge Alex Kim issued a temporary restraining order denying Cook’s Hospital to stop Tinslee’s life support. Later, Kim was removed from the case after the hospital filed a motion questioning his impartiality—saying Kim had bypassed case-assignment rules to designate himself as the presiding judge.

“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,” Trinity said.

Trinity, with help from the Right to Life movement, filed a suit last month in order to get the judge to issue an injunction to prevent the hospital from terminating the program. But to no avail. The new judge, Marion, has ruled contrary to the mother’s will.

In a statement issued by Texas Right to Life, Trinity said she was “heartbroken” over the judge’s decision. “I feel frustrated because anyone in that courtroom would want more time just like I do if Tinslee were their baby,” she said, Associated Press reported.

The mother has now seven days to file a notice of appeal and a motion for emergency relief with the state court of appeals. If so, the case would go to trial anew, giving Tinslee longer to live.