Fort Worth hospital appealing judge's decision to keep 9-year-old on life support

The Fort Worth hospital caring for a 9-year-old girl on life support is now arguing why it's inhumane to keep her hospitalized.

After suffering cardiac arrest in September, Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth declared 9-year-old Payton Summons brain dead. Since then, court orders have kept her on life support at the request of her parents.

In the written appeal, Cook Children’s lays out in no uncertain terms why they believe Payton should no longer be kept on life support.

Payton has been on a ventilator ever since. The hospital says 24 hours after the 9-year-old arrived, they did a brain scan that showed no activity indicating she was brain dead.

The parents went to court to prevent the hospital from taking Payton off life support. Judge Melody Wilkinson issued a 14-day restraining order and this week issued a 7-day extension that expires on Monday.

In the appeal, the hospital says the judge had no authority to extend a restraining order that had expired several hours earlier. The family has been looking for another facility that would take Payton because they believe she could still recover.

In the appeal, Cook Children’s says “to maintain a dead person on mechanical ventilation and in insist-in fact order-that health care providers continue treating a deceased, deteriorating body is, however, medically, ethically, and morally repugnant.”

According to the document, attorneys for the hospital stated bluntly "she is deceased. This is not a close call."

The parents are fighting the appeal.

“The court has granted additional time based on additional information to pursue those options,” said Paul Stafford, attorney for the parents. “So Cook has decided to foreclose those options contrary to what the court has ordered and contrary to the parents and Payton's wishes and the family's wishes.”

Payton’s mother, Tiffany Hofstetter, believes her daughter could have a chance to recover if she’s moved to another facility that would keep her on life support. Dozens have been approached by the family. So far, no facility has agreed to do that.

“We're gonna stand for Payton. We're gonna stand for her parents,” Stafford said. “We're gonna file a response and we're gonna fight for Payton until the court or the law indicates that we can't do that anymore."

Cook Children’s says they are continuing to support the family during this difficult time.

When the judge issued the 7-day extension on the restraining order, the parents agreed to allow the hospital to do a second brain scan Monday morning. And if it still showed no brain, Payton would be taken off life support at 6 p.m. when the extension ends.

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