Texas girl at center of court battles over life support dies

A 9-year-old Texas girl stricken with cancer died Friday just hours after an appeals court ruled that the hospital where she was treated could not remove her from life support.

Payton Summons suffered from a tumor that affected her circulation, which stopped her from breathing on her own, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She was declared brain-dead at the hospital after suffering a heart attack last month.

"At Cook Children’s [Medical Center], we mourn the loss of any young life and we understand that this has been a difficult and heartbreaking time for this family," Winifred King, a spokeswoman for Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, said. "Out of respect for Payton and her parents we feel it inappropriate to comment at this time."

The Summons family believed their daughter could recover and had been through a series of court battles with the hospital over the care of their daughter.

Cook Children’s had appealed a judge’s Oct. 15 decision to extend an order to keep her on life support until Monday.

"Cook Children’s has stated that it is "medically, ethically, and morally repugnant" to provide such care to Payton,” said Paul Stafford, one of the attorneys representing the girl’s family, in response to the appeals challenge.

The decision granted the family an additional week to find a healthcare facility that would care for the girl.

The hospital opposed the ruling, arguing that Summons "suffered a complete, irreversible destruction of her entire brain, including her brain stem. As such, there is no treatment that can be provided for her, at Cook or at any other facility, that will keep P.S. alive."

The extension would have expired at 6 p.m. Monday, paving the way for the hospital to remove her from life support.

"Cook Children's actions are contrary to the best interests of the child, the wishes of her parents, the order of the court, existing law, the hospital's own written policies, the will of the public, and the spirit of compassion, Stafford said.