The fight to save 10-month-old Tinslee Lewis continues after a new judged assigned to review the injunction extended the temporary restraining order against Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. The hospital has sought since the end of October to pull the plug on life support of the ailing child whose prognosis is grim.
Lewis’s family has been fighting in the courts to prevent the hospital from letting the baby girl die ever since an ethics board invoked the state’s “10-day rule” which allows hospitals who believe there is no chance for improvement to withdraw life support after giving a family ten days notice. Families can then seek legal remedy and/or find a new medical facility that will take on the patient.
Judge Sandee Bryan Marion extended the restraining order until January 2 so she could review the case. She is the second judge assigned to it after the previous judge was removed from the case last week following a motion filed by attorneys for the hospital. Family Court Judge Alex Kim, who had signed the original restraining order, was accused of not being impartial after he spoke at an event against the 10-day rule. Another judge agreed and Marion was assigned the case.
Now, the family has less than three weeks to convince the judge to issue the injunction or find a new facility willing to take Lewis as a patient. The hospital has reached out to 20 other facilities, but all have agreed there is no way to improve Lewis’s condition after three open-heart surgeries have failed.
At the heart of this case is the ethical dilemma that faces many medical professionals. Are the wishes of the family and the sanctity of life worthy of superseding cold, hard medical facts in a case? Lewis does not have brain damage and is believed to be feeling the pain that can occur in her day-to-day life. Is that pain too much to give up on a life? If a prognosis is as grim as Lewis’s, should medical professionals have primacy over the wishes of the family?
For now, Tinslee Lewis will remain on life support and her family will continue to fight to prevent the hospital from letting her die. This case has turned very political as both sides are questioning the efficacy of Texas’ 10-day rule.
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