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

LONDON, Ontario, March 1, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The expert lawyer representing dying one-year-old Joseph Maraachli, whose hospital is seeking to remove his ventilator against his parents’ wishes, was removed from the case today.

Mark Handelman, who the family hired with the financial backing of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, had been negotiating with the hospital, and was successful in having the hospital delay removing the ventilator.  It is unclear at this point what effect Handelman’s removal will have on Joseph’s cause.  LifeSiteNews was unsuccessful in reaching Joseph’s parents as of press time.

At the same time, the Washington-based Christian Defense Coalition announced Tuesday that they and the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network are holding two prayer gatherings in London, Ontario this weekend for Joseph,

The prayer and public witness events will be on Saturday, March 5, from 12:00-2:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 6, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. in front of the London Health Sciences Centre’s Children’s Hospital.  They will be held on the corner of Wellington and Commissioners Rd.

There will also be a rally in support of Joseph’s family on Saturday from 4:00-6:00 p.m.  Location to be announced.

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, traveled to Canada last week with Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo.  The two met and prayed with the family, pledged their support, and sought to connect them to legal assistance and to help to locate a hospital for Joseph in America.

“We are gathering for prayer and public witness as we stand in solidarity with Baby Joseph and his family,” said Rev. Mahoney.  “We will not be silent when it comes to this tragic crushing of human rights. ... We must always speak out with passion and courage when we see the dignity of human life trampled.”

“We support the family as the ones who should be making the final decision on how to best deal with this beautiful child,” he added.  “The courts and the hospital have completely disregarded the wishes of the family and are crushing their parental rights.”

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 tracheostomy which would enable him to breathe on his own, so that they could take him home.  Their daughter died from similar complications eight years ago, but in that case doctors performed a tracheostomy and they were able to take her home.

The hospital said Monday that they are willing to send Joseph home, but will not perform the tracheostomy. Instead, once he’s home, they would remove his ventilator, after which he will almost certainly die within a matter of minutes.  It is unclear at this point how the family will respond to the offer.

Dr. Paul Byrne, a fifty-year veteran in the field of neonatology, told LifeSiteNews Monday that in his opinion Joseph should have had a tracheostomy “a long time ago.”  He also insisted that he has never seen a need to remove a child’s ventilator, saying that “if a baby has a disease process that’s so bad that they’re going to die, then they die on the ventilator anyway.”

The hospital had appeared set to remove Joseph’s ventilator last Monday, but was delayed when Handelman made clear to the family that they could refuse.  The hospital’s move came after a February 17th decision from Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen Rady upholding a January verdict from the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario, which had supported the doctors’ move to take Joseph off life support against his parents’ wishes.

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 just over a week ago, show him flailing and reacting to tickling.  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.

The hospital is now asking Ontario’s Office of the Public Guardian to intervene and allow them to take Joseph off his ventilator, after the parents have continued to refuse consent.  That office has been unsuccessful in asking other family members to consent instead, and could intervene itself any day.

In the last week, the case has drawn 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.  Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of the U.S.-based Priests for Life, has pledged to pay for Joseph to be moved to a hospital in the U.S.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, has warned 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 13,000 people have rallied behind the parents through the Facebook page “Save baby Joseph”.

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


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.