Tragic Texas Case: Minor on Life Support But Declared Brain Dead

The parents of a 9-year-old girl who was declared brain dead by a Fort Worth, Texas, hospital, have been denied a temporary restraining order extension that would keep their daughter on life support, a judge ruled this week.  Judge Melody Wilkinson of the 17th District Court of Texas said the parents of Payton Summons did not meet the burden of proof for injunctive relief, according to Justin Moore, a lawyer for Payton’s family.

The family’s current restraining order against Cook Children’s Medical Center, which has kept Payton on life support since late September, is set to expire soon.  Payton collapsed while visiting her grandmother after going into cardiac arrest apparently caused by a large, unknown tumor in her chest.  She was transported to the hospital, and doctors established a heartbeat but put her on a ventilator because she was no longer breathing. She was confirmed brain dead after a test determined that she did not have brain activity.  The parents attempted to move her to a facility that would accept her, but none would. 

“Brain death, by definition, is irreversible,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN has stated.  He continued, “In the United States and most places, it is legally synonymous with death — the same as if your heart stops”.  But brain death means a total loss of brain activity.”  Under Texas law, a person is considered dead when they have suffered an irreversible loss of all brain function, the hospital remarked in a statement from September.  The family has not decided whether to pursue further legal action.



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