A Texas family fighting for their precious baby’s life now gets to heave a sigh of relief.
The family of little Tinslee Lewis, an 11-month-old born prematurely with a rare heart defect, rejoiced after an appeals court agreed to delay a judge’s ruling that would have allowed Cook Children’s Medical Center to remove her from life support.
Tinslee was diagnosed with Ebstein’s anomaly, in which her right heart valve is lower than normal, causing her heart to not pump properly and blood to flow backward through the heart. This causes the left side of her heart to work harder, enlarging the left side and weakening her heart overall.
The weakening of the heart can cause pulmonary hypertension, which Tinslee developed soon after she was born, in which the arteries of the lung and right side of the heart become weakened, blocked, or destroyed. Being premature, her lungs were underdeveloped, pushing her health even deeper into danger.
That hasn’t stopped Trinity Lewis, Tinslee’s mom, from fighting for her baby girl’s life with everything she’s got.
In Texas, a unique “10-day rule” exists allowing doctors to withdraw life-sustaining treatment against family wishes if the hospital’s ethics board deems it necessary, giving just 10 days to find another hospital to take the patient.
The hospital has wanted to remove Tinslee from life support since November 10, according to NBC News, and has reached out to at least 20 other hospitals to take over her care, but to no avail.
The day before the hospital was set to remove Tinslee from life support, the Dallas Morning News reports, the family’s attorney, Joe Nixon, began calling the hospital and asking to extend the timeline for ending life support. Around that time, Texas Right to Life began to lobby on Tinslee’s behalf.
That day, TRTL called on its supporters to flood the hospital with calls and emails calling on them to allow baby Tinslee to live. At a news conference outside the hospital, state legislators also called for action, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. That night, Tarrant County District Judge Alex Kim signed a restraining order against the hospital, preventing physicians from stopping care.
Earlier last week, a judge ruled in favor of the hospital, allowing it to take Tinslee off life support. However, her family appealed the decision and filed for emergency relief on Thursday, and the next day Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief in support of the family.
“This case presents a life-or-death decision,” Paxton said in a prepared statement. “The right-to-life and the guarantee of due process are of the utmost importance not only to baby Tinslee and her family, but to all Texans. I will continue to fight for Tinslee, and my office will continue to use all necessary resources to ensure that she will not be deprived of her right to live.”
Late on Friday, the Second Court of Appeals granted an order to delay the end of treatment until the court could rule on the case. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.
“This gives us so much hope for Tinslee,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz, the Texas Right to Life spokeswoman, of the decision. “This is a prayer answered.”
Baby Tinslee’s fight is far from over, however.
“In some instances, people live into adulthood before [an Ebstein’s anomaly] diagnosis is even made,” Dr. Jay Duncan, Tinslee’s doctor, told the Dallas Morning News. “In other cases, the abnormal valve can be repaired and the heart functions at near normal levels. In its most severe form, such as Tinslee’s, the right side of the heart is rendered non-functional.”
Some patients with a more severe version of Ebstein’s Anomaly, like the kind Tinslee has, may receive palliative surgery to divert blood flow around the malfunctioning heart valve, Duncan said. But Tinslee’s other heart and lung problems make such a procedure “impossible” for her, he said.
Thankfully, we know a God for whom nothing is impossible!
Folks, people all over the nation, even Gov. Greg Abbott, have been rallying for Tinslee’s right to life. Now, we need to be on our knees before the God of Heaven praying for her, that God’s will be done. Nothing God plans can be overthrown! Let’s plead for the life of this precious baby girl before our good, loving, and healing Father!
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