Texas Hospital Turns To Courts Again In Fight Over Life Support For 2-Year-Old Tinslee Lewis

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — A North Texas hospital is turning to a state appeals court in hopes of overturning a ruling that has had a now 2-year-old — who doctors say experiences excruciating pain that cannot be relived — on life support for most of her life.

Cook Children’s Medical Center filed an appeal in April asking the 48th District Court in Fort Worth to quickly schedule a trial date to decide whether medical intervention can end for Tinslee Lewis.

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Tinslee has been hospitalized since her premature birth in 2019. 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.

To date, Cook Children’s says they have spent some $24 million in Medicaid funds to keep the child alive, but her condition continues to deteriorate.

According to court documents, Tinslee’s medical expenses are paid for through a Texas Medicaid-managed program called, Texas STAR Kids. Administered by a third party, the program evaluates charges to determine whether treatment should be covered as medically appropriate and within the standard of care.

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At a December 2019 hearing Tinslee’s mother, Trinity Lewis, testified that despite her daughter’s sedation, she has a sense of the girl’s likes and dislikes, describing her as “sassy.” She said Tinslee likes getting her nails done but doesn’t like having her hair brushed.

“I want to be the one to make the decision for her,” Lewis said about removing her daughter from life support.

At that same hearing Dr. Jay Duncan, one of Tinslee’s physicians, testified that the girl is in pain and that treatment is no longer benefiting her and that she has no chance of recovery.

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The hospital has been trying to end care for Tinslee since 2019.

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth