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Toddler on Life Support Granted Extra Time by Federal Judge

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SACRAMENTO -- On the steps of the Robert T. Matsui federal courthouse in Sacramento there were celebrations of a small, but relished victory.

"We didn’t win the war, but we won the battle today," said Nate Stinson.

The federal judge on the case explained at the hearing Monday that the federal courts have limited jurisdiction over this matter. Thereby extending 2-year-old Israel Stinson's time on life support until May 11, when another hearing would be held.

For parents Nate Stinson and Jonee Fonseca, they have been working to keep their toddler on life support.

The family says it's been a battle, tirelessly fought, but on Monday, they were rewarded with the gift of time.

"We're trying to stop the train," said attorney Kevin Snider. "Life support was scheduled to be taken off this child last Friday, but we filed an emergency motion."

Hospitalized at the beginning of April due to an asthma attack, Stinson and Fonseca are doing everything they can to keep their son Israel on life-sustaining machines.

"A few more days for my son to be with us, and we know we’re going to come out on top on this," said Stinson.

An amended complaint will need to be filed, and another hearing will take place May 11.

"Israel’s doing better," said Stinson. "We're getting some signs of life. We’re hopeful that he will open his eyes and prove the doctors wrong before the hearing."

At Kaiser Permanente of Roseville, pictures show the frail 2-year-old boy hooked to tubes, breathing apparatuses and feeding devices.

He's unaware he is in the middle of a debate over life and death.

"For someone to say that he’s dead, and then he’s moving, nobody dead moves," said Fonseca. "It's very important that people see he’s responding to our voice, he’s responding to our touch."

The family’s religious definition of death is drastically different from the medical definition. His family says as long as his heart is beating, there is life.

Medical and legal terms aside, the family says the court’s extension brings the promise of possibility -- the opportunity for a miracle.

"He's very much alive," said Fonseca. "He’s still with us."

The family is hoping they will be able to relocate Israel to a longterm care facility in New Jersey.

Dr. Chris Palkowski, chief of staff at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center, issued the following statement on Monday’s court hearing:

"Our hearts go out to this family as they cope with the irreversible brain death of their son, and we continue to offer our support and compassion to them. We will continue to comply with orders issued by the Federal court.

Last week, the California Superior Court ruled that Kaiser Permanente Roseville complied with all state requirements (under California Health and Safety Code 7180 and 7181) that specify what steps physicians and hospitals must take to determine brain death. Israel's parents asked the California Superior Court to rule that Kaiser Permanente's procedures for determining brain death did not comply with the law. The Court ruled that Kaiser Permanente fully complied with the state law. The Court also ruled that Kaiser Permanente fully satisfied the law's requirement that a hospital provide a reasonable amount of time after determining brain death, to allow the family to come together.

California's law is modeled on one that has been adopted in nearly all the states in the nation. It's called the Uniform Determination of Death Act and applies to all, regardless of religion. At Monday’s hearing, the family asked the Federal Court to challenge this California law, and rule that federal law provides an exception in the case of a religious belief that brain death does not exist."