Baby Joseph 'resting well' after transfer to St. Louis hospital

  • March 15, 2011

Baby Joseph Maraachli and his mother, Sana Nader. Baby Joseph has been transferred to a hospital in St. Louis. (Photo from facebook)TORONTO - A private plane jetted Baby Joseph Maraachli to a hospital in St. Louis March 13, ending the family's battle with the London, Ont., hospital that sought to withdraw the breathing tube keeping the seriously ill 13-month-old alive.

The family's legal team of Windsor, Ont., lawyer Claudio Martini and the Washington, D.C.-based American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ) helped secure the transfer of Baby Joseph to SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Centre in St. Louis. The private plane, hired by the New York-based Priests for Life, landed at midnight in St. Louis. Priests for Life will also cover the family's medical costs.

The Baby Joseph saga has been played out for the past month as the Maraachli family battled London Health Sciences Centre, hoping for a tracheotomy for their dying child and the right to bring him home to live out his final days surrounded by family and loved ones. The child has a neurodegenerative disease and needs a breathing and feeding tube to survive. A Feb. 18 Ontario Superior Court ruling ordered the family to consent to the removal of the breathing tube on Feb. 21, confirming the recommendations of the hospital's doctors and the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario. But Joseph's family defied the legal order.

Martini told The Catholic Register it was a marathon three-day session of talks with the London hospital to help in the arrangements of the transfer. But Baby Joseph is “resting well” in St. Louis, Martini said.

“He is on a breathing tube and his treatment is status quo,” he said.

The new hospital will be conducting its own evaluation of Joseph within days of his arrival.

Other U.S. hospitals had turned down the family's earlier request for a transfer and second opinion, noted the London Health Sciences Centre. The hospital defended its previous decision in an online statement: “Despite the strongest possible medical advice to the contrary from medical experts in Canada, the United States and Europe, the parents of Baby Joseph Maraachli have accepted an offer to transfer him by air to the faith-based Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

"LHSC continues to be proud to stand behind their judgments and the care given to Baby Joseph. The judgments were sound, both medically and ethically, and the care Baby Joseph received from our staff was second to none anywhere in the world,” said CEO Bonnie Adamson.

The hospital argued that Joseph's condition is a “progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disease.” It agreed to transfer the baby home to his parents, but refused to perform a tracheotomy which it called an “invasive procedure” and did not apply to Joseph's condition. The baby's father, Moe, said removing the tube without a tracheotomy would not have given his son a chance to survive at home.

Meanwhile, the hospital said it was “targeted by well-organized social media feeds and directly via e-mail with personal threats, threats to their families, innuendoes and falsehoods.”

As for the St. Louis hospital, it “has agreed to provide the medical evaluation and treatment requested by his parents,” ACLJ said in a statement.

"We're extremely pleased that this hospital — a leader in health care for children — has stepped forward to care for 'Baby Joseph' at such a critical time," said Jay Sekulow, ACLJ's chief counsel.


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