HealthcareCook Children’s Continues Push to Withdraw Care from Tinslee Lewis Despite Improvements

In the ongoing court battle over toddler Tinslee Lewis’ care, Cook Children’s asserts that the child’s care is prolonging her suffering. Her mother says her daughter is improving.
May 7, 2021
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Eighteen months after Cook Children’s Medical Center first tried to discontinue toddler Tinslee Lewis’ care, she is still living, growing, and, according to her mother, improving. The fight to continue her treatment continues, however, as the Fort Worth hospital recently filed a motion to expedite discovery in the ongoing court battle.

In its motion, Cook Children’s claims that Lewis’ condition is terminal and “no medical treatment can improve her long-term prognosis” and that the treatment she has received is aggressive and has “increased her suffering.”

However, Tinslee’s mother, Trinity Lewis, and her lawyers profoundly disagree. In her response to Cook Children’s motion, Trinity says that Tinslee is making steady progress and that her care team has expressed that she is doing better than expected. Tinslee is receiving occupational therapy and even sitting in a wheelchair most days, according to her mother’s affidavit.

“Tinslee’s life is a miracle and she proves that every day! Look at this evidence and see for yourself how she is improving,” Kimberlyn Schwartz, Texas Right to Life Director of Media and Communication expressed in a press release.

Tinslee was born on February 1, 2019 with congenital heart and lung disease. According to Lewis’ response to the motion, “She did not need a ventilator to breathe until late August of 2019, when she developed complications after a procedure at Cook.”

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Trinity points out in her affidavit that she has been seeking to have a tracheotomy performed on Tinslee since August 2019 to make her more comfortable in place of the ventilator, but the hospital only recently performed it. The result has been that Tinslee has been able to be weaned off of several medications.

Cook Children’s admits that Tinslee is not in a coma or brain dead, yet it continues to advocate that her care should be discontinued.

In its motion, Cook Children’s also claims the case is not about money; however, it goes on to posit how expensive Tinslee’s care is and asserts that the Texas Medicaid program is threatening to “interject the issue into this dispute.”

However, Cook Children’s provided no affidavits or evidence to support this assertion. 

One of the attorneys for Tinslee, Emily Cook, says in her sworn affidavit that she contacted Medicaid on April 30 and verified that there are no plans to intervene in Tinslee’s case. Cook is general counsel for Texas Right to Life, who has been advocating on behalf of Tinslee’s continued care.

Cook also informed the court in her affidavit that there are two facilities in Texas that have indicated a willingness to receive Tinslee and continue her care. The facility in East Texas began receiving records of Tinslee’s care on April 30. The Houston facility has yet to receive any records to review.

In November 2019, a Tarrant County judge, Alex Kim, issued a temporary restraining order preventing the hospital from withdrawing care under the Texas Advance Directives Act or “10-Day Law.” 

District court Judge Sandee Marion denied a temporary injunction to protect Tinslee’s life and care, but her decision was reversed in July 2020 by the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth, which concluded Cook Children’s decision to engage in involuntary passive euthanasia of a disabled child violated the due process rights of Trinity Lewis, Tinslee’s mother.

In October 2020, the Texas Supreme Court declined the case on appeal by Cook Children’s. The United States Supreme Court also declined an appeal by Cook Children’s earlier this year  so the temporary injunction protecting Tinslee’s life and care is still in place.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.