A Texas mom who has been fighting to keep her 11-month-old daughter with a fatal medical condition alive will have more time with her baby after an appeals court agreed to delay a decision allowing a hospital to take the girl off life support.
The Texas Second Court of Appeals granted a motion for emergency relief Friday evening, ordering Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth not to withdraw life-sustaining treatment for Tinslee Lewis until it makes a decision on the case.
The order comes just a day after a Tarrant County judge denied the family a temporary injunction, a decision that allowed the hospital to take Tinslee, who has been in the intensive care unit since her birth, off life support.
Joe Nixon, an attorney for Tinslee's mother, Trinity Lewis, told BuzzFeed News the family was "elated that baby Tinslee gets to live."
"The trial court had issued a death sentence," said Nixon, who filed a notice of appeal and motion requesting relief just hours after the judge's ruling. "Had we not done this, Cook would have withdrawn life-sustaining treatment and Tinslee would have passed minutes after the treatment was withdrawn."
Tinslee was born prematurely in February 2019 with Ebstein’s anomaly, a rare heart defect, as well as chronic lung disease. She needs full respiratory and cardiac support, and the hospital said it believes her health won't improve and she continues to suffer despite her medical team's best efforts.
After an ethics committee determined that further treatment for Tinslee "would be inappropriate and should not be continued," the hospital invoked a state law that gives families 10 days to find another medical facility for a patient before it withdraws life-sustaining treatment.
"This is an answered prayer," said Kimberlyn Schwartz, a spokesperson for Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization working to help the family, referring to the appellate court's order. "This just means that she has another chance … for the right to due process and the right to life."
The appeals court will ultimately hear arguments on the temporary injunction, as well as on the constitutionality of the 10-day rule.
Nixon said it could be months until a decision is made. In the meantime, Tinslee's family is continuing to look for another medical facility to accept her as a patient.
"The culprit in this case is a statute that allows the decision on whether to maintain life-sustaining treatment to be shifted from the patient or the patient’s family to a committee in a hospital," Nixon said, calling the statute "horribly unconstitutional."
"It’s Tinslee who is confronting this problem today, but there are other people in hospitals throughout Texas who have to deal with this problem routinely," Nixon said.