Mom of Tinslee Lewis says daughter deserves 'fighting chance at life'

Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth delayed a judge's ruling to allow a hospital to remove Tinslee Lewis from life support.

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By Minyvonne Burke

The mother of 11-month-old Tinslee Lewis said her daughter deserves a chance at life after an appeals court delayed a judge's ruling and ordered a Fort Worth, Texas, children's hospital to keep the girl on life support.

Tinslee was born prematurely in February with a rare heart defect that has kept her at Cook Children's Medical Center since her birth. The hospital said in November that despite its efforts to give Tinslee the best care, she is showing no signs of improvement.

The hospital said it wanted to end the girl's medical treatment despite her family's objections. On Thursday, a judge gave Cook Children's Medical Center permission to take Tinslee off life support but days later, the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth delayed that decision.

"I know my daughter's medical needs are complex, but I am praying for someone to give her a chance," Tinslee's mother, Trinity Lewis, said at a news conference Monday.

According to the medical center, Tinslee is suffering and the little girl "should be allowed to pass naturally and peacefully rather than artificially kept alive by painful treatments."

Under Texas law, a hospital's doctors, with the approval of the facility's ethics committee, can end a patient's lifesaving treatment even if the patient or the family member responsible for making decisions on behalf of the patient objects.

The patient's family must be given at least 10 days to try and find another hospital to transfer the patient to before care is suspended, according to the Texas Tribune. A district judge in November ordered the hospital to continue treatment until at least Dec. 10. The order was later extended.

Lewis told reporters Monday that her daughter is not suffering and is awake most of the time she is at the hospital with her.

"I fully believe that Tinslee's life is in God's hands and that she deserves a fair and fighting chance at life, however long God has for her," she said at the news conference. Lewis revoked the hospital's permission to speak publicly about Tinslee's condition.

Hannah Mehta of Protect TX Fragile Kids, a group made up of parents of medically fragile children, told reporters at the news conference that they are searching for another facility that will take Tinslee.

She said the goal is to get palliative care — treatment that improves a person's quality of life — for Tinslee and then hopefully transition to home care.

"My biggest priority is getting Tinslee appropriate care so that I can make the best decision for my baby," Lewis said. "This situation takes away from my job as a mother and lets other people who don't even know her decide whether her life is worth living."

Tinslee underwent her first surgery the same month she was born. She went into respiratory arrest in July and is on a machine that replaces the function of her heart and lungs in addition to being on a ventilator.