Parents Fight a Texas Hospital Over Their Daughter's Life Support

A judge has granted Payton Summons' parents a restraining order against the hospital.



Texas parents are fighting the Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth over the right to keep a nine-year-old girl on life support.

Payton Summons has cancer. A tumor, which was discovered near her heart, cut off her circulation, and on September 25 she went into cardiac arrest. She was given CPR for an hour at home before her parents took her to the hospital. Staffers there were able to revive her heartbeat, but they had to put her on a ventilator because she was unable to breathe on her own. On Thursday, the hospital declared her brain dead.

The hospital planned to take her off life support on Monday, despite her parents' wishes. Instead, a Tarrant County judge granted Summons' parents a 40-day temporary restraining order against the hospital.

The parents hope the restraining order will give them enough time find a facility that will help their daughter. They are in talks with a hospital in West Texas, and they're open to options outside the state.

Justin Moore, the couple's attorney, argues that the Texas Advance Directives Act gives the parents a right to find an alternative facility. The hospital claims that the law doesn't apply in this case, since Summons has already been declared brain dead. Hospital attorney Laura Copeland has told a judge that it's "traumatic for the staff to have to do things for a patient they know is dead."

State District Judge Melody Wilkinson will reconsider the restraining order at a hearing scheduled for Friday morning.

The legal battle over Summons has some similarities with the death of British toddler Alfie Evans in April. Alder Hey Children's Hospital told Evans' parents that it would be "futile" and "unkind and inhumane" to keep treating the 23-month-old toddler, who suffered from a degenerative brain condition. Evans' parents spent months contesting the decision, which they eventually appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. Evans was granted Italian citizenship, and a Vatican hospital announced that it was willing to receive the boy for treatment. Despite this, the hospital removed Evans from life support and he passed away a week later.