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Fort Worth Family Fighting To Keep Daughter On Life Support

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Nine-year-old Payton Summons has gone from being full of life to fighting for her life in a hospital bed.

Payton Summons
(credit: Tiffany Hofstetter)

A week ago, Payton went into cardiac arrest.

She was staying the night with her grandma and her grandma said that she woke up "she screamed for her Grandmother to help her and said that she couldn't breathe... then she collapsed," said Payton's mother, Tiffany Hofstetter.

She was taken to the hospital. Doctors were able to get a heartbeat but Payton wasn't breathing and was put on a ventilator.

Payton Summons
Payton Summons and her grandmother. (credit: Tiffany Hofstetter)

"They found a mass that's twice the size of her heart," said Hofstetter.

A test was done to determine if Payton had brain activity. She did not. Doctors at Cook Children's Medical Center declared her brain dead.

A representative for the hospital said in a statement, "Per our protocol and national pediatric medical standards, a second brain death exam was scheduled to take place by a different physician within 12 hours of the first to complete the legal process of declaring Payton deceased."

"They explained to us that after she fails the second brain death test," said Payton's father, Joseph Summons, "they would stop the breathing machine and shortly after that her heart would stop."

Payton's parents told doctors they needed more time.

"The hospital has granted us until tomorrow at noon to find another facility to take her," said Hofstetter.

Hospital staff says they empathize greatly with the family and called two North Texas hospitals to see if they'd take Payton. Both declined.

Payton's family said they will not stop fighting to find a place that will take her.

"Your heart is still beating - there's still life in there," said Hofstetter.

Payton Summons
Payton Summons (credit: Tiffany Hofstetter)

Here is the full statement from Cook Children's Medical Center:

The staff at Cook Children's empathizes greatly with the family of Payton Summons. There's nothing more heartbreaking for a family to face than the possibility of losing a child. Our clinicians, many of whom are parents too, work tirelessly to save children every day.

Payton arrived at Cook Children's on Tuesday, unconscious and suffering from cardiac arrest.  She underwent an hour of CPR at home and in the ambulance on the way to Cook Children's.  After arriving in our Emergency Department, our physicians and nurses were able to revive her heartbeat, but they were unsuccessful in resuscitating her breathing.  Payton's breathing is currently being maintained through artificial means with the use of a ventilator, but she suffered a devastating injury to her brain due to being without oxygen for over an hour. In addition to dealing with the sudden blow of her cardiac arrest and devastating brain injury, Payton's family is also coping with the news that the arrest was caused by the growth of a very large tumor in her chest that is shutting off her circulatory system.

Under Texas law, a person is considered dead when they have suffered an irreversible loss of all brain function. As is standard medical practice, we conducted a brain death exam on Payton approximately 24 hours after she was admitted to our hospital. The results were conclusive and showed zero brain activity, confirming that Payton is brain dead.  In addition, an electroencephalogram (EEG) showed no electrical activity in her brain. Per our protocol and national pediatric medical standards, a second brain death exam was scheduled to take place by a different physician within 12 hours of the first to complete the legal process of declaring Payton deceased.  This is understandably very upsetting for Payton's family, and because we empathize with their situation and always prefer to collaborate with families to serve the best interests of our patients, we agreed to delay the second test for four days. We felt this would give the family time to better understand these heartbreaking developments, as well as to provide the family opportunity to explore the possibility of transferring Payton to another facility.  Our doctors have assisted in that effort by calling two North Texas hospitals, but neither was willing to accept transfer because they agreed there was nothing additional they could do for Payton. Our hearts are with Payton's family and we will continue doing everything in our power to help them through this difficult time.

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