A newly assigned judge tasked with deciding whether a Texas hospital can remove a 10-month-old girl from life support against her mother’s wishes has granted her family more time to find a different hospital for her.
Tinslee Lewis has been at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth since her premature birth last February. The hospital has sought to invoke the state’s “10-day rule,” a law triggered when a family and doctors disagree about ending a patient’s life-sustaining care. If the hospital cannot find a new facility to care for the patient within 10 days, then doctors can end the patient’s life support with approval from the facility’s ethics committee.
A previous judge granted the family a temporary restraining order against the hospital in November. On Thursday, Fourth Court of Appeals Chief Justice Sandee Bryan Marion said she would decide on Jan. 2 whether the hospital could remove life support. She granted the family an extension because she thought they could find a new facility for Tinslee and because she needed more time to research the case. The court removed the previous judge when lawyers for the hospital complained he had sidestepped procedure to get assigned to the case. Cook Children’s Medical Center and the family agreed that if Marion rules to stop life support, the hospital will wait seven days to take any action.
Tinslee has a rare heart defect and suffers from chronic lung disease and severe chronic high blood pressure. Since July, she has required full respiratory and cardiac support, deep sedation, and medical paralysis. Doctors say she is suffering and in pain.
But Trinity Lewis, Tinslee’s mother, said that despite her sedation she has likes and dislikes, squeezes her hand, smiles at her favorite nurses, and enjoys the animated movie Trolls, crying when it ends. “I want to be the one to make the decision for her,” Lewis said about stopping Tinslee’s life support.
Hospital officials said they have asked more than 20 facilities to take Tinslee under their care, but they all agreed that further treatment is futile. Texas Right to Life, a pro-life group that opposes the “10-day rule,” is among the advocates for Tinslee that have been attempting to find a hospital willing to take her. —M.J.