California mom given 1 week to keep toddler on life support

AP News
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Posted: May 13, 2016 9:06 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge in California on Friday granted a one-week extension for a mother's request to keep her toddler on life support to give an appeals court time to weigh in.

U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller in Sacramento ruled in the case of 2-year-old Israel Stinson after two hospitals determined he is brain dead.

Mueller rejected Jonee Fonseca's request for a permanent court order requiring Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Roseville to keep her son on life support to give her ample time to find another facility for him.

But Mueller gave Fonseca a week to appeal her decision.

Fonseca's attorney, Kevin Snider, said attorneys will go to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals early next week.

Fonseca said Israel moved in response to her touch and voice even after he was declared brain dead following what appeared to be an asthma attack that led to cardiac arrest.

"While Ms. Fonseca's maternal instincts and moral position are completely understandable, the concerns reviewed here suggest she is unlikely to obtain the relief she seeks," the judge wrote.

Kaiser Permanente attorneys said Israel's condition will not improve and futile care would deprive him of the "dignity of death."

"Our hearts go out to this family as they cope with the irreversible brain death of their son," the hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Chris Palkowski, said in a statement promising to follow the judge's order.

The fight is similar to the battle over Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl who underwent a tonsillectomy and tissue removal at Children's Hospital in Oakland, California, to treat sleep apnea. The girl suffered massive bleeding, had a heart attack and was declared brain dead in 2013. But her family fought to keep her on life support and moved her to a New Jersey, which requires medical treatment of patients like McMath who are declared dead but show minimal brain function.

"Plaintiffs are Christians with firm religious beliefs that as long as the heart is beating, Israel is alive," Snider said in court documents.

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AP Writer Sudhin Thanawala contributed from San Francisco.