Judge allows Fort Worth 9-year-old girl another week on life support

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A Tarrant County judge has given a family another week to find a facility to take their 9-year-old daughter and keep her on life support after a hospital declared her brain dead.

A court order ran out on Monday that prevented Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth from pulling Payton Summons off life support.

Payton’s parents fought in court to keep the young girl alive for at least another two weeks. They want a second 14-day restraining order. Instead, the judge gave them seven more days. The new restraining order expires next Monday at 6 p.m.

Payton has been on a ventilator since September 25 when she went to Cook Children’s with cardiac arrest. She has a tumor next to her heart. The hospital said an initial brain scan showed no activity. Payton’s parents believe she could still recover.

The judge showed compassion in letting both of Payton’s parents speak about why they want more time with her on life support.

Payton’s mother, Tiffany Hoffstetter, told the court that she doesn’t feel like her daughter is gone. She feels like she is still here wants to make sure that she did everything she could to save her daughter’s life.

The attorneys for Payton’s parents say there are several facilities that have agreed to keep Summons on life support that she could be transferred to. The parents would like more time to explore those options.

However, the attorney for Cook Children’s told the court that the parents have already exhausted every option, and she will not recover.

Payton’s court-appointed attorney agreed with the hospital's attorney, saying he did not want to keep her on life support. Ultimately, the judge ruled in the parents’ favor and allowed them one more week to keep her alive at Cook Children’s.

The hospital's attorney made a brief statement while the parents’ attorney credited community support.

“Sometimes, the most merciful thing the court can do is apply the clear law to the clear facts of the case,” said Greg Blaies, the hospital’s attorney. “Once again, this didn’t happen.”

“There has been an outpouring and a swell of community support. Folks calling in every day trying to give us new options for facilities to take Payton to,” said Justin Moore, the parents’ attorney. “The court acknowledged that point.”

The parents asked that she be given an EEG and apnea test next Monday morning. If she shows no improvement, she would be taken off life support. The judge says she cannot order tests to be done at the hospital, but the temporary restraining order will expire on Monday at 6 p.m.

The facilities that the parents’ attorneys mentioned they are looking at that might take Payton are all out of state in California, Massachusetts and Louisiana.