Patrick Craine

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Detroit hospital refuses Baby Joseph, but family still optimistic

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

LONDON, Ontario, February 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Detroit hospital where the family of dying one-year-old Joseph Maraachli had hoped to have him transferred has now refused to take him. Although the announcement comes as a blow for the family, they say they are far from out of options.

“We’re optimistic that there’s some good opportunities, but we hadn’t pursued them because they had told us yes at Detroit,” said Sam Sansalone, a spokesperson for the family.

Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit had agreed to take Joseph on Sunday, but then reversed that decision Tuesday evening.

“We had the opportunity to review Joseph’s record last night and today,” the hospital wrote.  “The review by both Neurology and ICU services has determined that we cannot offer Joseph anything that he has not been provided already during his current admission by his current clinical care team.”

The clock is ticking for the family as Victoria Hospital in London, where Joseph has been treated since October, 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.

Joseph’s father, Moe Maraachli, says hospital security is denying them private visitations with Joseph, and has forbidden them from taking videos.

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.  Joseph’s parents want the same for him.

In January, the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario sided with the hospital, and a date for removing Joseph’s respirator was set.  The family was able to hold it off by filing an appeal with the Superior Court.

However, Superior Court Justice Helen Rady sided with the hospital 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.

Sansalone, who had to fight with Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children to save his own daughter’s life nine years ago, says that while the Detroit hospital was their best option because it’s right across the bridge from the family’s home in Windsor, there are several other possibilities in Michigan.

“Because they said yes on the weekend, we stopped pursuing the other hospitals,” he explained.  “So now I’m getting a much later start.”

Sansalone said they believe Joseph will get better care from a U.S. hospital.  In particular, they’re hoping there he can get a tracheotomy. 

“He would get a re-assessment that the family could trust more,” said Sansalone.  “The assessment they got in London is not trustworthy to them because they know [the hospital] has been misleading the public and making it sound like he’s a vegetable, and he’s not.”

Joseph spent 29 days at Children’s Hospital of Michigan last year, where his health improved greatly.  For example, he went in not being able to eat by mouth, but by the time he was released he was able.  Sansalone says he was told their decision to refuse him this time came from upper-level management. 

Over 8,500 people have rallied behind the parents through the Facebook page “Save baby Joseph”.

“This is not done.  It’s far from over,” said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, who has been backing the family’s legal battle.  “We’re not down, we’re just recognizing this is a disappointment.”

Schadenberg has warned that he believes 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.”

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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

See Composing Effective Communications in Response to LifeSiteNews Reports.

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