Battle Continues Over Toddler on Life Support

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ROSEVILLE -- As machines help keep a two-year-old alive in Roseville, 20 miles away in Sacramento the next stage of his life is being decided on the 15th floor of the Robert Matsui Federal courthouse.

"It's been a hard process for us, but we're just sticking through it...just hoping and praying that everything works out for the best," said Nathaniel Stinson, little Israel Stinson's father.

According to the family, the best for Stinson and his toddler son would be for Kaiser Roseville to maintain the life-sustaining measures the child's been receiving since being transferred there after an asthma attack early last month.

He fell into a coma and has been declared brain dead by three Kaiser doctors.

It's a declaration his family is challenging as they seek federal injunctive relief to ensure he'll be given the feeding and breathing tubes needed to move him out of state.

California law doesn't provide for that, but Israel's lawyers and parents believe his right to life is being denied through a 14th amendment violation of due process - claiming independent doctors haven't been allowed to challenge Kaiser's findings.

And they say there's a lot to challenge.

"The minute that we come in the room we say 'Hey Israel'....he moves as if he's very happy to be present with us," said Jonee Fonseca, Israel's mother.

"But the hospital won't help the process. They won't feed him. They won't give him any kind of nutrition and they won't feed him. So how is he gonna heal," said Cedric Stinson, the toddler's grandpa.

The issue of nutrition also huge in this little boy's life.

"He needs protein and fat and vitamins and minerals. And he hasn't has any of these since the first of April. And it's absolutely shameful that he should be starved of these things," said Stinson family consultant and neurologist Dr. Paul Byrne.

Israel's family also hopes to win the court's favor through the Emergency Medical Treatment Labor Act known as EMTALA, saying the boy was alive when brought to Kaiser and in the interest of avoiding deterioration life support should continue.

It's a point the hospital disputes, but his parents believe administrators are cloaking their real motivation.

"They talked about this from the beginning... donating his organs," said Silverlene Davis, Israel's Grandmother.

"It's all about organs. That's what they want. They even had somebody at our first court date there.. ready to take over my son and take his organs. The first...the second court date, but we fought it and we won and that's mainly what i believe it's all about," said Israel's father.

Though Judge Kimberly Mueller is promising a decision by the end of week, the window for Israel's life to be saved or for him to save others is waning.

His lawyers say given his current state without food, he may just have two weeks left.

"I think that God is with us and we're just gonna keep pushing on," said a hopeful Nathaniel Stinson.

For its part, Kaiser Permanente would not offer someone to speak on camera about Israel's case.

Representatives did offer a written statement which reads in part:

"Our hearts go out to this family as they cope with the irreversible brain death of their son. We continue to offer our support and compassion to the family during this sad time. We will continue to follow the court's directions.

California's law about brain death 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 or personal belief.

At Wednesday's hearing, the family is continuing its challenge of the constitutionality of California’s law.

In cases of irreversible brain death, it is possible through heroic efforts and using mechanical means to cause the heart and lungs to function for some limited time.

However, there are ethical and medical concerns about performing procedures on a brain dead person, which have been discussed in court. Unfortunately, the family has not granted us a privacy release so we are prevented from providing further details.

Last month, the California Superior Court ruled that Kaiser Permanente 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 State 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."

The statement was provided by Edwin Garcia, Regional Media Relations Specialist for Kaiser Permanente.

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