Thursday February 25, 2010

Canadian Doctor: ‘Baby Isaiah’s Status as Human is on Trial in Canada’

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, February 25, 2010 ( – A Canadian doctor has stated in an editorial in the Winnipeg Free Press that the controversy surrounding the fate of Baby Isaiah May is ignoring the fundamental issue at stake – the status of the child as a human being.

Dr. Joel B. Zivot, an associate professor in the department of anesthesiology, University of Manitoba, and the director of the intensive care unit, cardiac sciences program, at St. Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg, said, “What has been reported is information that misdirects the public from the fundamental issues.

“Although the issue before the court is the degree of brain injury incurred by Isaiah, I realize that it is Isaiah’s status as a human being that is on trial.”

Isaiah was born in the Rocky Mountain House Hospital after a difficult 40-hour delivery. On Oct. 24th, the boy was airlifted to Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital because Isaiah’s umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck, resulting in severe oxygen deprivation. He was then placed on a ventilator in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

The hospital declared Isaiah “brain dead” shortly thereafter and clinical director Dr. Ernest Z. Phillipos informed the parents of his decision to take Isaiah off the ventilator.

The parents, Isaac and Rebecka May, took the hospital and Alberta Health Services to court, seeking a 90-day injunction against the order.

On January 27, Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Michelle Crighton ruled that Isaiah should remain on life support until February 19th for further assessment by medical experts.

Last Friday Justice Crighton again decided to give the parents of the infant more time to assemble medical experts to review their son’s condition, who against all odds seems to be thriving.

“He’s doing very well. There hasn’t been very many improvements over the past few weeks but he’s still growing. He’s over 12 pounds and he just looks like a perfect little boy,” Isaiah’s father Isaac told reporters.

Dr. Zivot said his own inquiry into Isaiah’s case has confirmed the parents’ assessment of their son’s condition and chances for life, but has also raised the question of the moral obligation Isaiah’s doctors have toward his care.

“In my investigation of Isaiah, I learned that he had gained weight, moved and breathed occasionally on his own. His photos displayed an infant who by all accounts seemed normal in appearance apart from some paraphernalia of the critical care trade,” Dr. Zivot observed.

“In contemporary thought,” Dr. Zivot continued, “once born, humanity is considered automatic and should not be revoked by disability. The yardstick of being a human being is set too high for Isaiah. Discussion on the prediction of degree of disability, including mental capacity, is not relevant as are counter-arguments based on the physical appearance of normalcy.”

“All that really matters, to be blunt, is if Isaiah is dead or alive.”

Contact Information:

Gene Zwozdesky, Alberta Minister of Health

208 Legislature Building

10800 – 97 Avenue

Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6

Phone: 780 427-3665

Fax: 780 415-0961

E-mail: [email protected]

Stollery Children’s Hospital

8440 112 Street Northwest

Edmonton, AB T6G 2B7

General Phone Line: (780) 407-8822

Alberta Health Services – Complaints

Mail Slot 57

11111 Jasper Avenue

Edmonton, Alberta T5K 0L4

Toll-free: 1-877-753-2170

Telephone: 780-342-8080

Fax: 1-877-871-4340

Dr. Ernest Z. Phillipos, Director of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Stollery Children’s Hospital

Phone: 780-407-1305

Fax: 780-407-3030

E-mail: [email protected]

Office of Premier Ed Stelmach

Room 307, Legislature Building

10800 – 97th Avenue

Edmonton, Alberta

T5K 2B6

Phone: (780) 427 2251

Fax: (780) 427 1349

E-mail: [email protected]

See related coverage:

Baby Isaiah’s Case Part of a National Trend Say Advocates for the Disabled

Young Canadian Parents Fighting Hospital to Save Their Baby’s Life