To join a Facebook page in support of the parents of Joseph Maraachli, click here.

Note: This article originally stated that the Maraachli family would be pursuing an appeal of last week’s court decision. However, there was a last minute change prior to this afternoon’s press conference, and now the lawyer for the family will be seeking to broker a deal with the hospital rather than filing an appeal.

LONDON, Ontario, February 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The family of dying one-year-old Joseph Maraachli, whose hospital is seeking to remove his life support against his parents’ wishes, announced this afternoon that their lawyer is working to broker a deal with the hospital.

The legal fees covered by Euthanasia Prevention Coalition are mounting quickly.

To make a donation to cover the legal costs please click here.

At the same time, the case is drawing attention from major pro-life and anti-euthanasia groups in the U.S. who hope to find a hospital willing to take over Joseph’s care.

Bobby Schindler, executive director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, traveled to Ontario Thursday by invitation from the family to advocate for Joseph.  “We’re educating ourselves about what’s going on and maybe ways that we can help the family in their plight,” he said.

Schindler told LifeSiteNews that he is struck by the “similarities” with the case of his sister Terri Schindler Schiavo, who was starved to death by her husband’s wish in 2005, despite impassioned pleas from her family, political leaders, and a horrified public.  Terri had suffered brain damage from an accident ten years before, and was conscious, able to breathe on her own, and required nothing but a feeding tube to receive food and hydration.

“The family wants to bring their baby home and they’re being denied,” he explained.  “That’s what our family - we were fighting for the same thing, really.  To bring Terri home and to care for her and show her the compassion that really only a family can do.”

In a statement, the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network said “it is unacceptable for Canadian Health Allocation Officials and/or the Canadian Government to make decisions for baby Joseph and his family.”

“Every patient, regardless of age, has a right to proper and dignified health care. It is frightening to once again see government usurp the God given rights of parents to love and care for their child at home,” it added.

Schindler was joined on the trip by Rev. Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, D.C., who called Joseph’s case a “human rights issue.”

“We’re going to be working with thousands of activists and organizations in America to try to get baby Joseph into a hospital in the United States,” he said.

He said they’re also trying to get the family legal assistance, and have connected them with the American Center for Law and Justice, which has won 13 cases at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is an issue that goes to family, this is an issue about who decides at the end of life issues, and we clearly believe that should be with the family, with the parents,” he told LifeSiteNews.  “So we’re here to support them, we’re here to stand with them, and we’re here to encourage them.”

Sam Sansalone, a spokesman for the family, informed LifeSiteNews that they are working with U.S. pro-life groups about the possibility of getting Joseph’s family refugee status in the U.S.  They’ve also been contacted by concerned citizens in New York who have begun looking for a hospital in that state that would take Joseph in.

The family was planning today to appeal last Thursday’s decision by Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen Rady, which upheld the January verdict of the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario that supported the doctors’ move to take Joseph off life support.  But they said at a press conference this afternoon that the lines of communication have opened and now leaders will meet Thursday in an effort to find a middle ground.

The hospital had appeared set to remove Joseph’s life support on Monday at 10 a.m., but that got delayed when the family hired expert lawyer Mark Handelman over the weekend with the financial support of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Justice Rady’s decision was based on doctors’ testimony that he is in a permanent vegetative state with no brain stem reflex.  But the family says that footage released Thursday by LifeSiteNews belies the doctors’ claim.  The videos, taken over the weekend, show him flailing and being tickled.  They also show that his hands have been tied down - a measure the hospital took after Joseph removed the tube from his throat on at least two separate occasions.

Joseph suffers from a severe neurological disorder, but his specific condition remains undiagnosed.  Doctors have given him no chance of recovery, so his parents, Moe Maraachli and Sana Nader, have asked them to perform a tracheotomy which would enable him to breathe on his own, so that they could take him home.  The doctors have refused, saying the procedure is too risky.

Their daughter died from similar complications eight years ago, but in that case doctors performed a tracheotomy and they were able to take her home.

The family has been trying to have Joseph transferred to a hospital in the U.S., where they believe he’ll get better care or at least a reassessment, and possibly the tracheotomy they need to bring him home. 

The family has also expressed concerns that hospital security is following them around and denying them private visitations with Joseph.

On Tuesday, Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, where the family had hoped to have Joseph transferred, refused to take him despite previous assurances that they would.  The family says, however, that they are far from out of options.

The clock is ticking for the family, however, as Joseph’s current hospital has asked Ontario’s Office of the Public Guardian to assume decision-making power after the family refused to have Joseph’s life support removed on Monday.  The public guardian could order it removed at any point.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, warned in a Fox news interview that the court decision facilitates a system where doctors are authorized to force life and death decisions on patients.  He has said he believes it is far worse than the “death panels” recently debated in the U.S. as part of the federal health care law.

“It’s the hospitals and the doctors once again usurping their power over the people,” he said.  “That’s what’s happening.  And they have significant power - they have the money and the courts behind them.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Over 9,000 people have rallied behind the parents through the Facebook page “Save baby Joseph”.

To make a donation to cover the legal costs please click here.

To join a Facebook page in support of the parents of Joseph Maraachli, click here.

Three more related LifeSiteNews stories:
Detroit hospital refuses Baby Joseph, but family still optimistic
EXCLUSIVE: Videos show ‘vegetable’ Baby Joseph reacting to parents
Parents of dying one-year-old fight hospital, courts to bring son home


Contact Information:

Bonnie Adamson
President and CEO, London Health Sciences Centre
800 Commissioners Road East
London, Ontario Canada N6A 5W9
Phone: 519-685-8462
E-mail: bonnie.adamson@lhsc.on.ca

Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Fax: (416) 325-3745
E-mail: Use this form.

Tim Hudak, Opposition Leader
The Ontario PC Party
19 Duncan Street
Suite 401
Toronto, ON M5H 3H1
Phone: 416-861-0020
Toll-free: 1-800-903-6453
Fax: 416-861-9593
Email: tim.hudakco@pc.ola.org

See Composing Effective Communications in Response to LifeSiteNews Reports.