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

LONDON, Ontario, February 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Dying one-year-old Joseph Maraachli’s family says two new videos of him flailing and reacting to tickling belie his hospital’s claim that he is in a permanent vegetative state.

The video of Joseph being tickled, which was shot Sunday evening only hours before the hospital had planned to remove his life support, also shows Joseph’s hands tied down - a measure the hospital took after Joseph removed the tube from his throat on at least two separate occasions.

“How can a baby be in a vegetative state who has his hands tied - as we speak - for him to not pull out his tube?” asked Joseph’s aunt, Samar Nader.  “How does a baby in a vegetative state respond to combing or tickling?”

“What really boggles my mind is how we’re not allowed to videotape him or have media outlets watching him to show the public what he’s like,” she added.  “That’s very frustrating.”

The family took Victoria Hospital in London to court last week to prevent them from removing his life support against their wishes, but Ontario Superior Court Justice Helen Rady sided with the hospital.  Her decision was based on doctors’ testimony that he is in a permanent vegetative state with no brain stem reflex.

But family members question the doctors’ judgment, saying Joseph is fully responsive to touch, particularly that he hates being touched by cold hands, tickles easily, and moves his head when his hair is brushed.  They also say he responds to loud noises by turning his head toward the sound.

Sam Sansalone, a spokesman for the family, says the fact that the hospital has had to tie his hands down shows “how absurd” the claim is that Joseph is in a vegetative state. 

“How could a supposedly persistent vegetative state child have so many occasions of purposeful neuromuscular movements of yanking out their uncomfortable air tube, so many times that hospital staff would have to tie his hands to prevent further episodes?” he asked.

Sansalone also says that hospital staff failed to note the tube removals in his chart.

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.

In January, the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario sided with the hospital, a decision backed up by Justice Rady last Thursday.  The hospital 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.

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

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 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 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.

He emphasized to LifeSiteNews last week that the family isn’t pushing for extraordinary treatment, just asking to care for their dying child at home.  “They’re arguing that the best way to do that is by doing a tracheotomy so the child can somewhat breathe on his own and care for him while he’s dying,” he explained.

“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.


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

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