Texas Mother Wins Appeal, Temporarily Halting Hospital’s Bid to Kill Child

The family of a 17-month-old baby is celebrating a win after the Second Court of Appeals in Texas ruled that they will not be forced to take their child off life support, at least for the time being.

The court issued an injunction to prevent the Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth from removing life support from Trinity Lewis’ young daughter, Tinslee Lewis, after they sought to invoke the “10 Day Rule” against the family’s wishes.

In Texas, if a hospital ethics committee decides to remove a patient’s life-sustaining care, even against their family’s wishes, the family of the patient has just 10 days to find a new hospital willing to take their loved one and keep them on life support. If not, support will be withdrawn and the patient will perish, and the family can’t do anything about it.

Opponents of the 10-day rule argue that it’s simply not enough time to find a new facility for a patient on life support, particularly one that is willing to take on seemingly hopeless cases.

Texas Right to Life board director Rich DeOttee called the 10-Day Rule “one of the worst laws in the country,” adding that “criminals on death row have more rights than patients at Texas hospitals.”

Tinslee was born prematurely and has a rare heart defect, chronic lung disease, and chronic high blood pressure. She has been hospitalized since birth and the hospital has been trying to pull the plug since late October 2019, almost a year now.

While the child is not brain dead and by all accounts has normal brain function, the doctors at the hospital believe she’s suffering, writing in a brief earlier in the year that their continued interventions are “unethical,” and “cruel,” and that they do not believe her prognosis will ever improve.

“Experienced pediatric nurses and doctors — who have dedicated their lives to treating the sickest children — are unable to reconcile with their ethical duties the excruciating but pointless pain they must cause [Tinslee] every single day.

“She cannot move. She cannot cuddle. She is rarely, if ever, held. The physician who has been treating her since birth has never seen her smile.” 

The family disputes this account that she’s suffering excessively and that her condition is irreversible. Tinslee’s mother argues that the little girl just need more time to heal. “She’s made it this far. I know she’s going to continue to fight for her life.”