California mom files appeal to keep child on life support

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California mother filed an emergency appeal on Tuesday in an effort to keep her toddler on life support after a lower court’s order expires on Friday.

Jonee Fonseca asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to override last week’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller in Sacramento.

Mueller rejected ordering Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Roseville to keep 2-year-old Israel Stinson on life support, but she gave the family time to appeal.

Two hospitals have determined he is brain dead, but Fonseca wants time to find another facility for him.

“If Kaiser is wrong and Israel is not brain dead, then disconnecting life support on Friday at the close of business will be an error that is irrevocable,” Fonseca’s attorneys wrote.

They asked the appeals court to order Kaiser to keep the toddler on life support while the judges take more time to consider the case. If they decline, the appeal asks them to at least keep him on life support while the family seeks emergency relief from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fonseca said Israel moved in response to her touch and voice even after he was declared brain dead.

Her attorneys said she has life-flight transportation ready to move him if she can find another facility that will take him.

“Ms. Fonseca is not asking in this emergency motion for years or even months – just enough time to brief the serious questions she has raised and give her son a chance to live,” the attorneys wrote.

The hospital’s chief of staff, Dr. Chris Palkowski, repeated after Mueller’s decision that the toddler’s brain death is irreversible. He said in a statement Tuesday that Kaiser is reviewing the legal documents while the hospital’s staff continues to support the family.

Israel first went to the University of California, Davis Medical Center following what appeared to be an asthma attack. At UC Davis, he went into cardiac arrest and was later found to be brain dead.

Two more evaluations at Kaiser Permanente also determined he was brain dead.

Fonseca’s federal lawsuit argues that state law doesn’t allow patients to bring in their own doctors to challenge the finding of death, and that ban violates due-process rights under the U.S. Constitution.

The fight is similar to the battle over Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl who had a heart attack and was declared brain dead in 2013 after a tonsillectomy in Oakland. Her family moved her to New Jersey, which requires medical treatment of patients like McMath who are declared dead but show minimal brain function.

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