Judge gives toddler two more weeks before hospital removes life support
SACRAMENTO, California, May 4, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The parents of two-year-old Israel Stinson have gotten another extension in the legal battle to keep him alive while they seek options for his ongoing medical care.
A temporary federal restraining order issued last Friday preventing officials at Kaiser Permanente’s Sacramento-area hospital from withdrawing the child’s life support was extended Monday, a mediation hearing before a federal magistrate judge the following day notwithstanding, and now the family has until May 11 to find a hospital to take their son.
With a previous restraining order obtained in state court dissolved and the case brought to federal court, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller required more time, Israel’s mother Jonee Fonseca told LifeSiteNews. The judge also directed attorneys for both parties to review previous similar cases before the case resumes next week.
Meanwhile, the search continues to locate a facility to accept Israel where he can prepare for long-term care.
“We are reaching out to anywhere that will take him,” Fonseca stated, expressing gratitude for the calls and emails they’ve received with ideas for facilities. Though many have been duplicates, with her son’s life in the balance, she welcomes any continued recommendations for a place to transfer him.
“If anyone has any suggestions, it’s better than nothing,” she said.
Israel was placed on life support after an asthma attack and subsequent respiratory and cardiac arrest in early April. Despite his family having transferred him to Kaiser for ongoing treatment and care, the hospital declared him brain dead April 14 just after his arrival there, having conducted brain function assessments without completely disclosing them to the family and against their wishes.
With Kaiser moving to withdraw Israel’s life support, the family has sued to maintain it while they find a facility that will accept him and administer a breathing tube and feeding tube, before then transferring him to long-term home care for continued recovery.
Israel’s mother reached out to Life Legal Defense Foundation after Kaiser performed the brain activity assessment, and the Pacific Justice Institute joined the legal foundation in their defense when the case went into federal court.
Legal counsel for the family has obtained multiple medical opinions in support of the family’s contention he is still alive and should continue to receive care.
The only nutrition provided Israel since April 1 has been Dextrose (sugar), the equivalent of 7-Up, according Doctor Paul Byrne, an outside specialist brought in for the case.
He said as well that the toddler’s hypothyroidism condition, likely present since his cardiorespiratory arrest, was neither tested nor treated prior to the family’s April 17 request, and that “thyroid hormone is necessary for ordinary normal health and healing of the brain.”
In another declaration submitted for the Monday hearing, a second medical expert said that the hospital should continue treatment, nutrition, and hydration for at least another month, Courthouse News Service reports.
"Given the uncertainty related to the thyroid condition and the family reporting some improvement since thyroid replacement, I think it would be both reasonable and compassionate to provide further life support and enteral nutrition for a period of 30 days," Doctor Peter Mathews stated.
Byrne, a pediatric neonatologist, also stated in his declaration that Israel is not in a coma, pointing out that many people have recovered from similar health issues, “even after having fulfilled criteria of ‘brain death” legally accepted by the State of California.”
"With proper treatment as proposed by his parents, Israel is likely to continue to live,” Byrne wrote, “and may find limited to full recovery of brain function, and may possibly regain consciousness."
Israel’s family has documented instances in which they believe he shows responsiveness, and Fonseca told LifeSiteNews it has continued to increase, with him responding to voices, also shown via changes on his heart monitor and ventilator, and Israel lifting his arm to assist when they handle him.
“He’s doing a lot more now,” she said. “He’s making a very remarkable improvement, without having been given the proper nutrition.”
In addition to their belief that Israel is still alive because of the signs he’s shown and the assessments by the two physicians, Fonseca maintains they are trusting in God that their son will pull through.
Their end goal remains a transfer to a facility in New Jersey, where state law does not provide for declaring brain death in cases where the family members believe that life continues until the heart stops beating.
Life Legal Defense Foundation is continuing to welcome input from the public to help find a facility for Israel. They can be contacted at 707-224-6675 or [email protected]. A GoFundMe account has been established to help fund his move to another facility.