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St. LOUIS, Missouri, March 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After weeks of legal battles and searching for a hospital willing to take over his care, Baby Joseph Maraachli was airlifted Sunday night to a children’s hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

Joseph and his father, Moe Maraachli, were joined on the specially-equipped air ambulance by Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of the U.S.-based Priests for Life.  The organization paid for the flight, and will foot Joseph’s U.S. medical bills and the cost of his family’s accommodations.

Doctors at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center are now evaluating his condition and developing a treatment plan.  The hospital is expected to make an announcement by Tuesday morning about their treatment plan for Joseph.

“If there is a chance this boy can live, we have to explore every option,” said Fr. Pavone in a Fox News report.  “Now that we have won the battle against the medical bureaucracy in Canada, the real work of saving Baby Joseph can begin.”

Joseph suffers from a severe neurological disorder, but his specific condition remains undiagnosed.  The Maraachli’s daughter Zina died from similar complications eight years ago.  In that case the family took her home after doctors performed a tracheostomy.  They now want the same for Joseph.

Joseph’s previous hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, which refused to perform the tracheostomy and had sought to remove his ventilator against his parents’ wishes, defended their care of Joseph again in a press release Monday.  They insisted he was taken from the hospital “despite the strongest possible medical advice.”

The hospital complained that their doctors and staff “were targeted by well-organized social media feeds and directly via email with personal threats, threats to their families, innuendoes and falsehoods.”

The family had hired a new Canadian lawyer last week, Claudio Martini, who was planning to appeal the February 17th decision by Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen Rady backing the London doctors’ decision to take Joseph off life support.

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 has contested that claim, pointing to footage showing him flailing and reacting to tickling.

A new video just released by Priests for Life shows Father Pavone interacting with Baby Joseph Maraachli in his hospital room.

The video, shot today, shows the baby moving his hands and rolling in his bed. The hospital in Ontario where he had been a patient since October, declared that the baby was in a persistent vegetative state, but doctors at Cardinal Glennon have told Father Pavone that he is primarily breathing on his own and is responding to touch.

After the Superior Court ruling, the hospital had appeared set to remove Joseph’s ventilator on February 21st.  The move was delayed, however, when the family hired expert lawyer Mark Handelman with the financial backing of Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.  Handelman was later replaced by Martini.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, has warned that Ontario is creating a system where doctors are authorized to force life and death decisions on patients.

In a blog post Monday, he said the case emphasizes the need to reform a legal system in the province that “is loaded against families.”  When there’s a disagreement between doctors and patients, hospitals have “unlimited financial resources” to hire a top lawyer with expertise in this area of law, he explained, while families often hire a lawyer from legal aid or one who lacks experience in the area.

“The law has a natural inequality that has resulted in a plethora of precedent setting cases that support the role of the doctor/hospital to make medical decisions against the wishes of the family. This needs to change,” he wrote.  “If doctors/hospitals have access to huge legal budgets that are in fact, tax payers money, in order to fight families who are simply attempting to make medical care decisions on behalf of family members, then the system should also pay the cost for the family.”

Dr. Paul Byrne, a fifty-year veteran in the field of neonatology based in Ohio, who has said that Joseph should have had a tracheostomy “a long time ago,” told LifeSiteNews Monday that this issue shouldn’t be turned into a debate about the American health care system versus the Canadian system.  Instead, he said it highlights the need for “medicine that’s based on the Creator and the specialness of the person.”

“It’s medicine that is in accord with the Hippocratic oath, which very few doctors take any more, versus medicine that is not true medicine, but is actually part of the culture of death,” he explained.  “It’s medicine that’s with God versus medicine that’s without God.”

“They make the person be like a machine, like an automobile that has parts,” he said.  That’s not what the person is.  When the automobile gets too much wrong with it, it goes to a junk yard.”

“They decided that baby Joseph was not worthwhile and to do a tracheostomy was futile, and therefore they weren’t going to do it,” he added.

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