July 17, 2020

A New Doctor Steps Forward to Give Baby Tinslee Another Chance

Tinslee Lewis
17-month-old Tinslee Lewis may have another chance at life since a new doctor has stepped forward offering to provide treatment.

Tinslee's life has been the subject of an ongoing legal battle between Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas and the child's family. The hospital attempted to invoke Texas's 10-day rule last year, which would have allowed the hospital to stop providing life-sustaining treatment for Tinslee and simply let her die.

In a legal brief, Cook Children's Medical Center staff argued that Tinslee's treatment is painful to her, will not improve her condition, and is not fair for the staff or Tinslee: “She cannot move. She cannot cuddle. She is rarely, if ever, held,” the staff wrote. “The physician who has been treating her since birth has never seen her smile.”

Dr. Glenn E. Green, a professor of otolaryngology at the University of Michigan, stepped forward to examine Tinslee personally, and his conclusion has granted new hope to Tinslee's family. He believes that the "dying spells" described by Cook's Medical Center might be attributed to airway issues, which could be solved with a simple procedure. Dr. Green says that he would evaluate Baby Tinslee for airway malacia and perform a tracheostomy.

Dr. Patrick Roughneen, a physician from Galveston, Texas, also examined Tinslee in-person and concurred with his assessment. The two doctors have filed declarations with the court saying that the tracheostomy request was medically appropriate. Trinity Lewis, Tinslee's mother, has requested to both Cook Children's Medical Center and the court that Dr. Green be allowed to evaluate Baby Tinslee and provide her with medical care.

“Baby T.L. should be treated no differently than any other child who has been on a ventilator this long,” Dr. Roughneen said in a statement to Texas Right to Life. “Tracheotomies are routinely performed for patients after 14-days on a ventilator. Baby T.L. 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. The benefits of a tracheostomy versus a ventilator are decreased work of breathing, reduction in airway dead space, avoidance of tracheo-innominate fistula [a lethal complication of an indwelling tracheostomy tube] and management of pulmonary secretions. Hence there are very specific patient benefits to performing this procedure.”