Hospital appeals to U.S. Supreme Court to remove life support from baby Tinslee Lewis

By Anne Marie Williams, RN, BSN 

November 11–In October, Live Action News reported that the Supreme Court of Texas had refused Cook Children’s Hospital’s request to remove baby Tinslee Lewis‘s life support, which would have overturned a July appeals court injunction requiring that Tinslee’s medical care continue. 

The July ruling was significant for Tinslee’s case specifically, and was also considered a legal blow to the constitutionality of Texas’s ’10-Day Rule,’ which requires families who oppose a hospital’s decision to end a patient’s life support to find another facility willing to take the patient within 10 days.

Texas Right to Life has just provided an update in the case via a press release emailed to Live Action News on November 10th, noting that on the one-year anniversary of the day Tinslee was spared from death, “Cook Children’s filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States in yet another attempt to remove the toddler’s life-sustaining treatment.”

The appeal, the pro-life group noted, “comes after the Texas Second Court of Appeals issued a 148-page opinion in July protecting Baby Tinslee and decimating the deadly 10-Day Rule. Cook Children’s first appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Texas in August, and the state’s highest bench declined to hear their appeal, thereby further safeguarding Tinslee.”

Tinslee has been hospitalized for the entirety of her young life, relying on machines that help her breathe and eat due to significant heart and lung problems. Multiple times, Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth has petitioned the court for permission to remove Tinslee’s life support because of what they call her “ongoing daily agony.” Most recently, the hospital has alleged that Tinslee has required “deep sedation and paralysis” to “facilitate mechanical ventilation, decrease the pain caused by daily cares, and mitigate events that can lead to significant deterioration in her condition.”

One of Tinslee’s physicians, Dr. Jay M Duncan, testified under oath that he believes Tinslee “cannot recover… and has no chance of long-term survival” from “severe chronic lung disease, ventilator dependence, pulmonary hypertension, and bronchiectasis.” 

Documentation provided by Cook Children’s to the court further maintains that Tinslee is without visitors 99% of the time, a claim that Tinslee’s mother Trinity Lewis counters by noting that she is a working single mother with another young child who is unable to visit the hospital with her due to current COVID-19 visitor restrictions. Lewis further stated that “Cook’s recent court filings don’t tell the truth about my little girl’s condition and show Cook’s will say anything to have my daughter’s life ended.”

Of note, Cook Children’s has steadfastly refused to perform a tracheostomy, which is usually considered standard medical care for a patient who has been on a ventilator for longer than two weeks. The hospital has only agreed to perform a tracheostomy if Trinity Lewis would agree to a Do-Not-Resuscitate order for Tinslee and would also find Tinslee placement at another facility within 7 days.

While Tinslee’s family has sought emergency privileges to bring in an outside physician to assess Tinslee and possibly perform the tracheostomy, the hospital has steadfastly refused, presumably for legal liability reasons among others. Multiple physicians have further contested the hospital’s diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension. According to the hospital, no other medical facility will accept a transfer of Tinslee’s medical care, but Texas Right to Life has consistently pointed out that this is due to Cook Children’s refusal to perform the tracheostomy.

Texas Right to Life said that Tinslee’s story “has… touched the lives of other people. Families of over a dozen patients have called Texas Right to Life for help after hearing Baby Tinslee’s saga and were rescued from the 10-Day Rule.” 

Editor’s  note. This appeared at LiveActionNews and is reposted with permission.