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Judge Denies Injunction In Baby Tinslee Lewis Case, Hospital Can Remove Life Support

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - A district court judge in Fort Worth has sided with a hospital and denied a temporary injunction for the family of an 11-month-old girl seeking to keep her on life support.

Tinslee Lewis has been hospitalized at Cook Children's Medical Center since her premature birth in February. She was born with Ebstein's anomaly, a rare heart defect that has left her with chronic lung disease and severe high blood pressure. She is in the neonatal ICU and requires full respiratory and cardiac support, in addition to deep sedation to keep her medically paralyzed.

Tinslee Lewis
Tinslee Lewis (CBS 11 News)

In November the hospital attempted to invoke Texas' "10-day rule" — a law that gives families 10 days to find a new hospital if they disagree with doctors who decide to take a patient off life support — but baby Tinslee's family won a temporary restraining order that forced the hospital to keep her on life support.

At the time Tinslee's mother, Trinity Lewis, said her daughter was conscious, had favorite nurses, enjoyed toys with lights, and that her favorite movie is "Trolls".

During a December 12 hearing officials with Cook Children's said the hospital would "take no action to withdraw life sustaining treatment for Tinslee Lewis for a period of seven days from the date of this court's order" to allow the family to file a notice of appeal and a motion for emergency relief.

"I am heartbroken over today's decision because the judge basically said Tinslee's life is not worth living," Lewis said in a statement after Thursday's ruling. "I hope that we can keep fighting through an appeal to protect Tinslee."

Doctors say they've done everything they can for Tinslee, but she will never get better. They believe she is suffering.

"Just changing her diapers, turning her over so she doesn't develop bedsores – all the things we have to do to keep her alive and well are causing her pain and suffering and we don't want to do that any longer," said Wini King with Cook Children's.

The hospital has reached out to more than 20 other facilities to see if Tinslee can be transferred to their care, but says each one agreed with their diagnosis.

"The truth of the matter is Tinslee is not going to get better, and it's not just us sayin that," King said.

Even though the judge gave the hospital the green light to withdraw life-sustaining treatment in seven days, King says Tinslee's medical team will not make any sudden decisions.

"We will continue to give Tinslee the care we've always given her, as long as this goes on," she said.

Attorneys for Tinslee's family filed an appeal this afternoon. Cook Children's plans to continue treating her while the legal battle plays out.

After the denial Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton issued the following joint statement:

"The case of Tinslee Lewis is complex and heartbreaking, and the state will continue to support Ms. Lewis's exhaustion of all legal options to ensure that Tinslee is given every chance at life. The Attorney General's office is involved in the ongoing litigation, fighting to see that due process and the right to life are fully respected by Texas law. The Attorney General's office will be supporting an appeal of this case to the Second Court of Appeals. The State of Texas is fully prepared to continue its support of Ms. Lewis in the Supreme Court if necessary. We are working diligently to do all we can to ensure that Tinslee and her family are provided the care and support that they seek."

Texas Right to Life and Protect TX Fragile Kids, a pair of non-profit groups working with baby Tinslee's family, had said that at least two medical centers were reviewing the child's case to decide whether they could/would take over her care. No word on if any of those facilities have approved or denied accepting Tinslee as a patient.

Fort Worth Catholic Diocese Bishop Michael Olson offered to assist the family of Baby Tinslee.  The Diocese released the following statement:

In response to a ruling made Thursday by a Texas judge, Fort Worth Catholic Diocese Bishop Michael F. Olson is offering to assist the family of Baby Tinslee Lewis in seeking compassionate
and appropriate care for her in a Catholic health care facility. Bishop Olson said "healthcare decisions involving the vulnerable and severely ill are best made in the patient's interests by family and healthcare providers and not by judges, by politicians, or lobbyists."

The Bishop added that the offer is made out of respect and value for the dignity of Tinslee's life to prevent and relieve her suffering and to support the best possible quality of life for
Tinslee and her family.

Bishop Olson is offering to consult with Baby Tinslee's family and appropriate Texas Catholic healthcare facilities during the 7-day period in which Cook Children's Medical Center agreed that it would take no action to withdraw life-sustaining treatment to allow Tinslee's family time to make decisions on a path forward.

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