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A Texas judge ruled Thursday to remove 11-month-old Tinslee Lewis from life support, siding with doctors who decided to end her care, saying the child was in pain, is not forecast to improve, and will likely die within the next six months.
Tinslee was born prematurely in February with severe medical problems including a rare heart defect called Ebstein's anomaly, chronic lung disease and severe chronic high blood pressure, that ultimately led doctors at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth to decide to pull her life support.
Tinslee's mother Trinity Lewis vehemently rejected the decision and took it to court, asking Judge Sandee Bryan Marion to issue an injunction in Tarrant County district court.
However, on Thursday Judge Marion ruled to remove Tinslee's life support against the family's wishes.
Lewis was left 'heartbroken' by the decision saying, 'I feel frustrated because anyone in that courtroom would want more time just like I do if Tinslee were their baby,' in statement issued by anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life.
'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,' she added.
On Thursday Texas Judge Sandee B. Marion ruled to remove 11-month-old Tinslee Lewis from life support at Cook Children's Medical Center. Tinslee pictured in this undated photo
Tinslee was born prematurely in February with severe medical problems including a rare heart defect called Ebstein's anomaly, chronic lung disease and severe chronic high blood pressure, that ultimately left doctors at Cook Children's Medical Center deciding to pull her life support. Tinslee pictured with mom Trinity Lewis
Judge Sandee Bryan Marion ruled Thursday to remove Tinslee from life support, a decision the family says they will appeal
The ruling comes after a months-long legal battle between Cook Children’s Medical Center and baby Tinslee's family.
'We’re pretty sad,' Tye Brown, Tinslee’s cousin, said to the Star-Telegram. 'We’re not angry with the judge or anything, but you know, it’s a very sad feeling.'
The family said they will appeal the decision and are filing an emergency motion to stay which, if granted, will prevent the hospital from removing life-sustaining care while the appeal is ongoing.
The hospital has also agreed to keep Tinslee on life support for seven days following the judge’s decision, regardless of whether or not the stay is granted.
In her decision, Marion said the seven-day period would give the girl's mother time to file a notice of appeal and a motion for emergency relief with the state court of appeals.
According to the hospital, Tinslee went into respiratory arrest in early July and has been attached to a ventilator every since and requires full respiratory and cardiac support, deep sedation and to be medically paralyzed. The hospital said doctors believe she's suffering.
Doctors at the Fort Worth hospital had planned to remove Tinslee from life support on November 10 after invoking the '10-day rule', which can be employed when a family disagrees with doctors when they agree life-sustaining treatment should be stopped.
'I feel frustrated because anyone in that courtroom would want more time just like I do if Tinslee were their baby,' mom Trinity Lewis said on Thursday's decision
The law stipulates that if the hospital's ethics committee agrees with doctors, treatment can be withdrawn after 10 days if a new provider can't be found to take the patient.
Hospital officials have said they reached out to more than 20 facilities to see if one would take Tinslee, but all agreed that further care is futile. Groups including Texas Right to Life have also been trying to find a facility to take her.
In a hearing last month Trinity Lewis said she believed her daughter would continue to fight for her life.
She described her daughter as 'sassy' and says she has a sense of the girl's likes and dislikes. Tinslee enjoys the animated musical Trolls and cries when it ends, the mother said. She added that Tinslee doesn't like to have her hair brushed.
'I want to be the one to make the decision for her,' Lewis said about removing her daughter from life support.
At the hearing last month, Dr. Jay Duncan, one of Tinslee's physicians, described the girl's complex conditions and Cook Children's efforts to treat her, which have included about seven surgeries and three open heart operations.
The cardiac intensive care doctor said that for the first five months of Tinslee's life doctors had hope she might one day at least be able to go home. But Duncan said there came a point when doctors determined they had run out of surgical and clinical options, and that treatment was no longer benefiting Tinslee.
Duncan said last month that the girl would likely die within half a year, and noted the hospital has made 'extraordinary' efforts to find another facility for her.
'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 at Cook Children's hospital in Fort Worth (above), said at a hearing last month
'She is in pain. Changing a diaper causes pain. Suctioning her breathing tube causes pain. Being on the ventilator causes pain,' he said.
Duncan said there had been 'many, many' conversations with Tinslee's family about her dire condition.
'We care a lot about Tinslee,' Duncan said. 'We care a lot about her family.'
Tarrant County Juvenile Court Judge Alex Kim issued a temporary restraining order to stop the removal of life support on November 10. But Kim was removed from the case after the hospital filed a motion questioning his impartiality and saying he had bypassed case-assignment rules to designate himself as the presiding judge.
After his removal, Judge Marion, who is chief justice of Texas' Fourth Court of Appeals, was assigned to hear the request for an injunction in Tarrant County district court.
Cook Children's said hospital officials had been talking to Tinslee's family for months about concerns for her long-term survival. By August, the hospital said, everyone on the girl's care team agreed that further care was futile and by September they had begun talking to the family about withdrawing life support.
With the doctors and her family still unable to resolve their differences, the ethics committee met October 30 and unanimously decided further treatment was inappropriate
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