California Family Fights To Keep Toddler On Life Support After Doctors Declare Him Brain Dead

Two-year-old Israel Stinson. NBC

One California family is not giving up the fight for their son’s life despite doctors declaring him brain dead.

After Israel Stinson, 2, suffered a severe asthma attack, he experienced cerebral hypoxia — a condition or state that occurs when the brain is completely starved of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function properly. Israel has been on life support since the attack, something his parents wish to continue in spite of the hospital's policy, which is to take him off it now that he's been declared brain dead; however, time is limited.

According to NBC: Bay Area, the family's legal team only has this weekend to prepare a new petition against the hospital's decision for a federal appeals court. The court has stopped the hospital from taking the boy off of life support so far, but Israel’s parents need to prove by Monday that there is another hospital willing to treat him.

“It means we still have time. They won’t pull the plug,” Jonee Fonseca, the toddler’s mother, told NBC.

Observers of the case have drawn comparisons to the case of Jahi McMath, a teen who was declared brain dead after undergoing surgery to correct her sleep apnea. Doctors even issued McMath a death certificate, but her family has been fighting to have it revoked. Both Jahi's and Israel’s family believe their children were declared brain dead too soon.

“The hospital declared him brain dead before he showed signs of improvement,” said Alexandra Snyder, executive director for the Life Legal Defense Foundation in Napa, Calif. "So then it could argue that it didn’t have to treat him.”

Kaiser Permanente, the family’s insurer, said in a statement: “We will continue to work to facilitate the family’s request to transfer Israel to another facility if another placement is identified.”

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