Canadian Court: Remove Baby’s Life Support Despite Parents’ Wishes

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 17, 2011   |   6:47PM   |   London, Ontario

A Superior Court judge in London, Ontario has dismissed the request of a Canadian couple to overturn a decision requiring the removal of their baby’s feeding tube in a hospital instead of at home.

Joseph Maraachli, a one-year-old boy from Windsor, Ontario, has been at Victoria Hospital in London since October with a rare deteriorating condition that is not improving. The doctors who have cared for him want to remove his breathing tube but Moe Maraachli and Sana Nader took their battle to court to allow the tube to be removed at home , so the boy can die surrounded by his family.

The Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario, an independent agency that is devoted to dealing with Health Care Consent Act, ruled on January 26 in favor of the doctors. Today, Justice Helen Rady said she agreed with the board’s decision in a ruling that came just an hour after attorneys for both sides made their case in court, according to the Windsor Star newspaper.

As a result, doctors will remove Joseph’s breathing tube on Monday morning.

“I do my best for my baby. My son is not a criminal . . . to just let him die,” Moe Maraachli said after the decision, according to the newspaper. “They are taking my baby away from me.”

Maraachli said he didn’t know how he would break the news to his wife, who was so emotionally distraught she was unable to sit through the hearing. He also did not know how he would explain the decision the couples other child, who is seven years old.

The couple lost another child to the same condition years ago and Joseph has been suffering from severe and progressively deteriorating neurological problems where his brain has been losing function and he is unable to breathe or swallow on his own. Although doctors say Joseph is in a persistent vegetative state, his parents say Joseph responds to their voices and touch and has been growing.

Matthew Archbold of the Catholic blog Creative Minority Report responded to the news: “I can’t even imagine what these parents are going through. These people want a tracheotomy done so they can care for the child at home but the hospital’s saying the surgery is too risky so instead they’ll just remove life support and let him die. So…what happens if the tracheotomy fails? He might die. So to avoid the possibility of death the hospital is going to ensure death.”