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Sunday, December 10, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Brain-Dead Child Moved Out of USA

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — A toddler deemed brain-dead by multiple Kaiser doctors but kept on life support because of a court order was transferred to a hospital outside the United States on Saturday, according to the child's mother.

Two-year-old Israel Stinson was declared brain-dead in April by physicians at both the University of California-Davis and Kaiser, but has been kept on a ventilator for over a month while his mother, Jonee Fonseca, has fought in Federal Court to keep him alive while she finds a hospital willing to give him extended care.

In a post on her GoFundMe page, Fonseca said that Israel has been transferred to another facility because "no hospital facility in the United States would accept our son."

"After examining Israel, a neurologist and pediatric specialist at the new hospital have concluded that our son is NOT brain-dead. He is right now receiving nutrients (besides dextrose) and a treatment protocol for the first time in six weeks," Fonseca said.

After both a state and federal judge ruled that Kaiser complied with California's Uniform Determination of Death Act and provided Israel's parents with enough time to grieve, Fonseca filed an emergency appeal to the Ninth Circuit to give her more time to find another facility.

The appeals court extended a May 20 deadline that would have allowed Kaiser to remove Israel from life support while it considers the case.

Fonseca's attorney, Kevin Snider of the Pacific Justice Institute, confirmed to Courthouse News that the toddler has been transferred and that the appeal will likely be dropped.

"To protect the privacy of the family, we are not releasing any information regarding the name or location of the medical facility. The appeal is now moot," Snider said in an email Monday.

During each of her legal challenges, Fonseca argued that Israel is alive and that he recognizes and reacts to her voice and touch. She accused Kaiser of wanting to "pull the plug" on Israel and submitted the declarations of doctors agreeing that he isn't brain-dead.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller acknowledged that California's definition of brain-dead has not been heavily litigated but sided with Kaiser in a 31-page ruling. She ruled that Kaiser had stabilized Israel's condition and properly complied with both the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act and the state's Uniform Determination of Death Act, and gave the mother one week to appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

"Israel was able to beat the odds and is now being cared for as a live human being," Fonseca said.

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