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Parents fear losing Texas girl after court OKs ending life support

By Nicholas Sakelaris

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- A 9-year-old Texas girl could be removed from life support as early as Monday -- against the wishes of her family -- after a contentious court fight to keep her alive.

Payton Summons has been declared medically and legally brain-dead, but her parents were granted a temporary restraining order Oct. 1. so they could find another facility to treat her. Wednesday, a Tarrant County judge declined to extend that injunction after weighing hours of testimony, which included physicians who said nothing more can be done for the girl.

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The restraining order will expire Monday, at which time the child's ventilator can lawfully be switched off.

The restraining order prevents doctors from performing a second test to make a declaration of brain death. Other hospitals agree that nothing can be done to treat the girl.

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Mother Tiffany Hofstetter also testified, saying she believes her daughter can be saved. Payton had a heart attack last month after a tumor cut off blood circulation in her chest.

"This is the worst experience that I've had to go through in my life," Hofstetter said. "I know Payton and as long as her heart is still beating, she's alive."

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Payton survived cancer when she was a toddler.

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"I believe a miracle will happen for my daughter," father Joseph Summons said.

Family members are still reaching out to other medical facilities, hoping one will agree to keep her alive, although doctors say the transfer could kill her. Attorney Justin Moore said the parents can also take Payton's present hospital back to court.

"No one won today," Moore said after the court rejected the parents' plea. "Our fight will continue."

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"Payton's condition has continued to deteriorate," said David Cook, an attorney for the parents.

Hospital attorney Laura Copeland said the ordeal has been heartbreaking for everyone involved.

"It was our hope today that the court would make a determination that would give this family some closure," she said. "Unfortunately, that did not happen and we remain in legal limbo."

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