Parents of 9-month-old baby given 10 more days to keep her on life support before hospital shuts off

Tinslee Lewis
Tinslee Lewis, 9-month-old child on life support in Dallas. |

A judge has ordered a children's hospital in Texas to keep a 9-month-old baby on a ventilator to help her breathe after the hospital wanted to take her off life support. 

Baby Tinslee Lewis has reportedly never been outside the intensive care unit at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, having been born premature with a rare heart defect called Ebstein's anomaly, according to ABC affiliate KTRK. She has been on a ventilator since July due to a chronic lung disease.

"She's a happy baby. She loves to cuddle. She's a good baby," said Trinity Lewis, the girl's mother.

"I thought they were going to pull the plug on my baby," she said. "I didn't think she was still going to be here today, and that's what I'm grateful for."

The temporary restraining order gives the family a few more days — until Nov. 22 — to find another hospital that will admit the baby for ongoing treatment.

Medical doctors at Cook Children's Hospital maintain that the child's condition cannot be reversed and that she is in pain. The hospital notified the family Sunday that life support was going to be removed unless they could find another hospital willing to admit her. The hospital said they had reached out other children's hospitals around the country, including some in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, none of which are willing to admit the baby as a patient.

Texas law has a 10-day rule in which hospitals are allowed to end life-sustaining treatment if doctors believe a patient has no hope for recovery. Families are then given 10 days to transfer their sick family member to a different facility.

If the family is unable to find another hospital to care for Tinslee, they will return to court to explore renewing the restraining order to keep her alive.

The Lewis family's case is among the latest of instances in recent years highlighting the tense dynamics between state laws, the court system, medical ethics, hospital policies, and patients' rights.

In the United Kingdom, infants Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans, who had unusual degenerative disorders, garnered international media attention in light of the disagreements between their parents and the medical teams attending to them. 

Evans' parents wanted their son to be discharged from Alder Hey Children's Hospital to seek further care at the Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome.

In September 2017, Italian doctors from Bambino Gesù Hospital produced an assessment report on the possibility of transferring the child to Italy. The hospital offered prolonged ventilator support, along with a surgical tracheostomy and would remove a nasogastric tube, replacing it with a gastrostomy, according to their report.

Alfie Evans ultimately remained at Alder Hey for the duration of 2017. Ten days before he died in April 2018, the baby's father met with Pope Francis, who had supportively commented on the case on his Twitter page.

Pope Francis also signaled his support previously in the case of Charlie Gard, along with others, such as President Donald Trump an music artist Cher. Shortly after baby Alfie died, Richard Land, president of of Southern Evangelical Seminary, said he "joins a large and growing caravan of patients who have become martyrs to the "quality of life" ethic that empowers government authorities to sever the sacred bonds between parents and their children and prevent parents from doing what they believe is best for their children." 

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