Texas family fights to keep 9-year-old on life support

FORT WORTH, Texas — The hospital has declared 9-year-old Payton Summons brain-dead. Her family has argued that she still has life.

Now, the girl’s parents are fighting to keep her on life support while seeking another hospital to care for her.

Payton has been on life support at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, since late September, after she went into cardiac arrest.

Last month, Payton was staying overnight with her grandmother when the young girl suddenly woke up, “screamed for her grandmother to help her and said that she couldn’t breathe … then she collapsed,” Payton’s mother, Tiffany Hofstetter, told CNN affiliate KTVT in September.

Payton was taken to the hospital, where doctors established a heartbeat but put her on a ventilator since she wasn’t breathing. A test determined that Payton did not have brain activity. Under Texas law, a person is considered dead when they have suffered an irreversible loss of all brain function, a hospital statement said, according to KTVT.

“Per our protocol and national pediatric medical standards, a second brain death exam was scheduled to take place by a different physician within 12 hours of the first to complete the legal process of declaring Payton deceased,” the hospital said in a statement.

It added, “in addition to dealing with the sudden blow of her cardiac arrest and devastating brain injury, Payton’s family is also coping with the news that the arrest was caused by the growth of a very large tumor in her chest that is shutting off her circulatory system.”

Payton’s parents have argued that they need more time.

They filed a temporary restraining order against the hospital in order to keep Payton on life support there for at least two more weeks while they find another hospital that could take their daughter.

The parents have 12 days to find a new facility or else the hospital will remove her from life support.

“As of right now, we have not found a facility but we remain hopeful. I have friends and family that are continuing to send us different locations all over the United States that they feel would be a best fit for Payton, and we stay on top of it,” Hofstetter told HLN’s Michaela Pereira on Wednesday.

“Payton never gave up on anything. And I know that in this situation, she wouldn’t give up, either,” she said. “The fact that the doctors told me that her heart would stop on its own this weekend, and she made it until today, lets me know that Payton’s not done. She’s still here to fight. So I’m her voice, and I’ll do it for her.”

Justin Moore, a lawyer for Payton’s family, told CNN on Wednesday that there will be a hearing on Friday to learn whether a judge will grant the family more time to find another hospital.

Kim Brown, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said in a statement to CNN on Wednesday, “Cook Children’s has been informed that we no longer have the ability to speak to media about Payton Summons. Although the family previously signed a consent form authorizing the release of information protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), we have been notified by the family’s lawyer that the family has revoked their consent for us to speak about Payton’s condition.

“Unfortunately, this means that we are no longer able to provide detailed, factual information regarding this case. We’re disappointed that the family has revoked their authorization because we believe that accurate information facilitates fair, balanced and informed reporting.”