To join the ‘Prayers for Noah Facecchia’ Facebook page, click here.

TORONTO, Ontario, March 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In stark contrast to the treatment of dying baby Joseph Maraachli, a Toronto hospital last week granted a family’s wish by performing a tracheotomy on their six-year-old, who is in a similar state as baby Joseph.

Noah Facecchia had been unconscious and on a ventilator at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children since January 9th. However, his father Tony said today that with the support of his doctors, he has now been breathing on his own since 9:00 a.m. Monday, except for a break last evening.

Noah, who was a healthy, active, and intelligent six-year-old, who loved soccer, swimming, and karate, had laughed and joked with his parents, Tony and Sonia, and little sister before going to sleep happily on January 8th.

However, his father was shocked the next morning when he returned to find Noah non-responsive and in the midst of a seizure.  He hasn’t woken up since.

“I had no idea that my healthy boy would not wake up one day and become so critically ill,” says Tony Facecchia.

Since January 9th, Noah has been experiencing generalized seizures lasting five to 30 minutes, with breaks of five to 10 minutes.  He has been diagnosed with idiopathic refractory epilepticus, but doctors have failed so far to find the origin of the seizures, and say he is unlikely to survive. 

The hospital had agreed to perform the tracheotomy, which is a simple procedure involving a slit in the throat to allow a breathing tube to be inserted into the airway.  The surgery is recommended in cases of prolonged ventilation because it allows for suction of fluid out of the lungs, creates a safe and stable way to use a mechanical ventilator, and is more comfortable for the child.

But the parents were shocked earlier this month when they learned that a new doctor on the case was refusing the procedure.  He said they would remove Noah’s tube instead.

“They were pretty adamant about that all of a sudden,” said Tony.  “We were going to the meeting thinking we’re going to discuss a time for this tracheotomy to happen, and all of a sudden they pull a 360 and say ‘No, we’re not going to do it anymore.’”

They had also learned earlier that the doctors put a ‘do not resuscitate’ order (DNR) into Noah’s file without consulting them.

Building off the momentum created by the case of Joseph Maraachli, whose Facebook page has grown to 15,000, Tony launched his own Facebook page calling for prayer.  So far, they’ve attracted over 2,000 supporters.  The Facecchias put a lawyer on speed dial and continued to advocate for their son.

Noah’s supporters breathed a sigh of relief Friday morning when Tony announced that the doctors had changed their mind and performed the tracheotomy.  “I think they’re back in the game of seizure control,” he told LifeSiteNews.  “At the time, it felt like they had given up on him a little bit, a few weeks back.”

“[The doctor] basically said, ‘I’m not doing this for Noah.  I don’t think this is in his best interests.  I’m doing it for you, for the parents,’” said Tony.

The DNR remains, but it has now been clarified so that it only applies if Noah’s heart stops beating.  “If he’s deteriorated so much that his heart doesn’t work anymore, they won’t pump his chest,” Tony explained.  “I believe that’s reasonable, as long as they try everything they can for him not to get that way, and they assured us that they will.”

“They’ve been quite reasonable with us.  I guess level heads prevailed,” he said.  “I guess they realized that we were adamant.  We were advocating that we wanted it.”

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, praised Tony and Sonia for their “exceptional” effort to advocate for Noah.  “They really did yeoman’s duty for their son,” he said.

Schadenberg said Noah’s case was similar to Joseph Maraachli’s because both dealt with who makes the final decision on treatment – the doctors or the family - and in each case the parents were asking for a tracheotomy.

The fact that Sick Kids hospital agreed to the do the tracheotomy “shows that hospitals don’t have to look at it as being an absolute,” said Schadenberg.  “There appeared to be a bit of a policy not to do these things, but for some reason Sick Kids has agreed to do it.”

Tony said the doctors were really making a “quality of life” argument.  “How are you deciding what kind of quality of life my son’s going to have?” he asked.  “The thing is, you can’t give us one hundred percent certainty on anything, so how can you give me one hundred percent certainty on that?”

While Noah’s doctors don’t expect him to wake up, Tony said they are praying and remain hopeful.  “We’ve got a lot of people praying for us,” he said.  “It really means a lot to us.  It’s helping us be strong and it’s very inspiring to get kind words from strangers.”

To join the ‘Prayers for Noah Facecchia’ Facebook page, click here.