IssuesFamily of Tinslee Lewis Petitions Court to Allow Treatment from New Doctor

The family of Tinslee Lewis is petitioning the court to allow a new doctor to treat her by evaluating for airway malacia and performing a tracheostomy.
July 17, 2020
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Tinslee Lewis was born prematurely in February of last year and diagnosed with Ebstein’s anomaly, a rare heart disease requiring life support for Tinslee.

In October, Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth informed Tinslee’s mother, Trinity Lewis, that they would be removing Tinslee from life support under the so-called “10-Day Rule.”

The controversial provision in the Texas Advance Directives Act allows health care providers to end life-sustaining care of a patient, but requires them to provide a 10-day notice to the patient or the patient’s caretakers.

In Tinslee’s case, an appellate court has issued a temporary restraining order against the hospital, requiring them to continue providing life support while the case pends.

Now, the family’s attorneys have filed a petition with a Tarrant County district court to have Lewis treated by Dr. Glenn Green, a professor of otolaryngology at the University of Michigan.

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According to Texas Right to Life, which has been supporting the family, Green and Dr. Patrick Roughneen — a physician from Galveston who evaluated Tinslee in-person — agree that her condition may be treatable by evaluating for airway malacia and performing a tracheostomy.

In a statement to the court, Roughneen said that Tinslee “should be treated no differently than any other child who has been on a ventilator this long.”

“Tracheotomies are routinely performed for patients after 14-days on a ventilator,” said Roughneen. “[Tinslee] has been on a ventilator for over 10 months. It is not within the standard realm of care to leave a patient on a ventilator this long and refuse a tracheostomy.”

Texas Right to Life said that the opinions from Green and Roughneen “emphasizes what we’ve known all along.”

“The narrative that Baby Tinslee is ‘a hopeless case’ is completely false, and [. . .] placing a countdown on patients cuts their lives short,” said the organization in a press release. “Cook Children’s planned to pull the plug on Baby Tinslee last November, stating no other doctors would care for her and that her death was imminent, but 248 days later, Tinslee has proven them wrong.”

A detailed article of the case can be found here.

Timeline of Events:

  • February 2019: Tinslee Lewis is born prematurely, diagnosed with Ebstein’s anomaly, and cared for by Cook Children’s Medical Center.
  • October: Cook Children’s decides to remove Tinslee from life support and sends the required 10-day notice to the family in accordance with the Texas Advance Directives Act.
  • November: Tarrant County Judge Alex Kim issued a temporary restraining order requiring Cook Children’s to continue providing life support and extended it, giving the family more time to search for an alternate care provider.
  • December 4: Kim is recused from the case after a request from Cook Children’s.
  • January 2: Justice Sandee Marion, who was assigned to the case after Kim’s recusal, denied a temporary injunction requested by the family, allowing Cook Children’s to continue with the process of taking Tinslee off of life support.
  • January 3: The 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth granted emergency relief to the family, requiring Cook Children’s to continue life support.
  • February 4: The appellate court heard oral arguments from the parties involved in the case.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.