Baby Joseph Update

The 14-month-old is recovering well following a tracheotomy. He is expected to soon be moved to a St. Louis pediatric specialty hospital before going home to Canada.

(photo: CNS photo/courtesy of SSM Cardinal Glennon)

ST. LOUIS (CNS) — Baby Joseph Maraachli, the 14-month-old Canadian boy who received a tracheotomy March 21 at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis, is expected to soon be moved to Ranken Jordan, a St. Louis pediatric specialty hospital, before returning home.

Doctors at Cardinal Glennon also have diagnosed Joseph with Leigh’s disease, a progressive neurological disease. As of March 29, he remained in the pediatric intensive care unit at Cardinal Glennon.

Hospital spokeswoman Mary Aita said a recovery time of seven to 10 days after a tracheotomy is normal.

After he is discharged from Cardinal Glennon, he will stay at Ranken Jordan before being transported to his family home in Windsor, Ontario.

Joseph was placed at the center of an end-of-life debate while he was receiving treatment at a hospital in London, Ontario. Born in January 2010, Joseph has had a history of health problems and finally was admitted last October to the London Health Sciences Centre. Hospital officials, who called the boy’s condition fatal, wanted to take the child off his feeding tube and ventilator, allowing him to die. The parents refused.

A statement from Cardinal Glennon said the tracheotomy was deemed “medically appropriate” after a thorough examination of the child and consultations with Joseph’s parents and the medical center’s ethics committee.

“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,” according to the statement. “We ask that you keep Baby Joseph and his family in your prayers.”

The Maraachli family was assisted in their journey to St. Louis by Father Frank Pavone and Priests for Life.

“Ordinary medical treatments are those that provide a reasonable hope of benefit without an excessive burden,” Father Pavone said in a March 21 statement. “Baby Joseph received today a wonderful benefit, through the love of his parents and the professional care of the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.”

“We have been so happy to be working with Cardinal Glennon, because the faith and the vision of our Church for the dignity of all human life just permeates everything that has happened here,” Father Pavone told the St. Louis Review archdiocesan newspaper.

“What our faith says is the value of a life does not depend on how well it functions,” he added. “Medical science may certainly tell us that certain treatments are worthless, but there is no such thing as a life that is worthless. In a situation like this, we can have a beautiful teaching moment for our whole Church and our whole culture.”

Baby Joseph was baptized March 18.

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