Baby Joseph gets his tracheotomy

  • March 22, 2011
Moe Maraachli and his 14-month-old son, Joseph, are pictured in a St. Louis hospital room. Doctors performed a tracheotomy on the infant last night. (CNS photo/courtesy of SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center)Doctors at a St. Louis hospital performed a tracheotomy March 21 on Baby Joseph, the seriously ill 14-month-old who has been at the centre of an international tug-of-war over end-of-life care.

It's a procedure the Maraachli family has fought for ever since the Ontario Superior Court ordered them to give their consent to remove their child's breathing tube on Feb. 18. He has a neurodegenerative disease and needs a breathing and feeding tube to survive.The family defied the legal order and the advice of London Health Sciences Centre doctors who said his condition would not improve with the procedure, would be "invasive" and futile.

“Following a thorough examination by a multi-disciplinary medical team of specialists from SSM Cardinal Glennon and Saint Louis University School of Medicine, along with extensive consultations with Joseph's parents and the SSM Cardinal Glennon ethics committee, we concluded that a tracheotomy was medically appropriate,” said the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Centre in a statement.

Baby Joseph was transferred to the St. Louis hospital on March 13 from the London, Ont., hospital whose doctors refused to perform a tracheotomy. But the child's father, Moe Maraachli, said the family wanted the procedure performed to enable the family to bring Joseph back to their Windsor, Ont., home to care for him in his final days. Maraachli told The Catholic Register in a previous interview that this move would mean God, not the doctors, would decide his son's fate.

The case received high-profile media coverage in Canada and the United States, with pro-life and conservative groups taking up his cause.

The hospital said the baby was resting in the pediatric intensive care unit after the tracheotomy. After he is discharged, Baby Joseph will travel to Ranken Jordan, a pediatric specialty hospital in St. Louis, before being transported back to the family's Windsor home.

“It is our hope that this procedure will allow Joseph and his family the gift of a few more months together and that Joseph may be more comfortable with a permanent tracheotomy,” the hospital said.

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