Canadian boy moved to US over end-of-life dispute

Associated Press |

HO In this photo provided by Priests for Life, 13-month-old Joseph Maraachli rests in a bed at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center with his dad Moe Maraachli, right, and Father Frank Pavone, left, March 14, 2011 in St. Louis. Joseph, at the center of a right-to-life debate, is suffering from an unspecified neurodegenerative disease his doctors in Canada say is fatal. (AP Photo/Priests for Life) NO SALES

A Canadian couple transferred their terminally ill toddler son to a Catholic hospital in St. Louis after an Ontario court ruled that doctors could remove the breathing tube keeping the boy alive.

Thirteen-month-old Joseph Maraachli arrived at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital on Sunday after the hospital agreed to treat the boy. The hospital issued a statement Monday saying Joseph arrived in serious but stable condition and was being evaluated by doctors there.

Joseph’s doctors at London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario, where he had been treated since October, determined that he was in a permanent vegetative state and that his condition was deteriorating, and they planned to take him off of assisted breathing.

Joseph’s parents, who lost an 18-month-old child to the same disease eight years ago, challenged the hospital’s finding in court but lost. Moe Maraachli and Sana Nader contended that removing their son’s breathing tube would cause him to suffocate and cause him undue suffering, and they sought to compel doctors to give Joseph a tracheotomy that would allow him to breathe through a tube inserted into his throat. They said the tracheotomy could extend his life up to six months _ as they say it did for their other child who died _ and would allow him to die at home.

After losing in the courts, Joseph’s parents enlisted support for their cause using social media sites, but the hospital refused to reverse course. So they began reaching out to U.S. hospitals, and Cardinal Glennon agreed to care for their son.

Late Sunday, a plane carrying Joseph, his father, and the Rev. Frank Pavone of the New York City-based group Priests for Life flew to Cardinal Glennon. Priests for Life, which lobbies against abortion rights and euthanasia, paid for the chartered plane.

Moe Maraachli did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment Monday. But Pavone said the parents are simply trying to extend the life of their child and make sure he doesn’t suffer.

“The parents are saying, `Look, even if the diagnosis is fatal, let’s give him the best care he can get,'” Pavone said. “They’re saying, `This is our child. We believe his life is worth extending.'”



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