FORT WORTH, Texas – A North Texas hospital is asking a state appeals court to take steps to overturn a ruling that forced it to continue providing life-sustaining treatment for a toddler who doctors say is in pain and will never recover.
Cook Children’s Medical Center filed an appeal April 16 asking the 48th District Court of Fort Worth to quickly schedule a new trial date to decide whether 2-year-old Tinslee Lewis should be removed from life support.
The Fort Worth hospital said it has spent $24 million in Medicaid funds to keep Tinslee alive and that her condition only continues to deteriorate. The hospital says Tinslee cannot feel anything except pain.
Tinslee was born with a rare heart condition and the hospital said it has undertaken “extreme efforts” to keep her alive. She breathes with the assistance of a ventilator and is sedated but conscious.
In multiple court proceedings, doctors testified that Tinslee has no chance of recovery and that each day is torturous for her, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
“Although this case has never been about money — and Cook Children’s has never considered finances when making an end-of-life decision, the State of Texas (through its manager of a Medicaid care program) is now threatening to interject the issue into this dispute,” according to the appeal filing.
Tinslee’s mother, Trinity Lewis, as well as family members and activist groups, have argued for two years that Tinslee deserves to live and that only a parent has the right to decide if or when medical care should end.
Responding to Cook Children’s appeal, Lewis repeated that the hospital should not be able to decide Tinslee's fate. She said her daughter has been more alert and more active lately and that she thinks it's possible her daughter will recover.
Tinslee’s care is being paid for through a special Texas Medicaid program known as Texas STAR kids, the hospital said in a brief. The state has hired a third party to review whether Texas should be spending tax dollars on Tinslee’s care “when such care is medically futile, far beyond the applicable medical standard of care, and cannot impact her underlying condition,” according to the hospital.
The hospital asked the court to set a trial date for July 26.