Dying Canadian infant moved to U.S. hospital for medical treatment

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A thirteen-month-old Canadian infant dying from a unknown neurological condition was transferred Sunday night from a Canadian hospital, where he had received treatment since October 2010, to a U.S. hospital. In January, a Canadian Superior Court judge had ruled that the Canadian hospital could remove the infant’s breathing tube against the parents’ wishes and issued a do-not-resuscitate order.

‘Now that we have won the battle against the medical bureaucracy in Canada, the real work of saving Baby Joseph can begin.

According to court documents, Joseph Maraachli, known as “Baby Joseph”, has been repeatedly diagnosed as in a vegetative state with no hope of recovery after suffering an episode of “seizure activity” at age six months. At that time, an MRI showed “a reduction in brain size associated with cells dying from metabolic stress.” He stopped breathing in October and was hospitalized at Ontario’s London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) where he remained until Sunday. A panel of five pediatric clinic and three neurology physicians subsequently concluded that “there will be no recovery and no treatment options exist for this progressive neurodegenerative disorder.”

The infant’s parents, Moe Maraachli and Sana Nader, wanted Joseph to receive a tracheotomy, which combined with mechanical breathing devices, would allow him to be transferred home, his family acting as care givers. Several years previously, the Maraachli’s daughter had died of a similar neuro-degenerative condition. They used their daughter, Zina, as an example. After doctors performed a tracheotomy on her, she returned home for several months before returning to die at the hospital. This time hospital refused to perform a tracheotomy on Joseph because there was no hope of recovery. After the judge ruled in the hospital’s favor in January, pressure against the hospital intensified and the hospital received threats.

The case has generated controversy primarily from groups such as the Terri Schiavo organization, Priests for Life (PFL), and the American Center for Law & Justice who represents the parents. The parents transferred the infant to the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri to obtain a second opinion. PFL nation director, Father Pavone, traveled to Canada Sunday night to aid in the transfer. He said in a press release: “After around-the-clock negotiations, this really became a race against time.”

After successfully moving Joseph to the St. Louis hospital, Father Pavena said, “Now that we have won the battle against the medical bureaucracy in Canada, the real work of saving Baby Joseph can begin.”

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