Release of Medical Records Holding Up Transfer of Baby Joseph

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 7, 2011   |   2:30PM   |   London, Ontario

As the parents of Baby Joseph Maraachli in Canada wait for a hospital to transfer their son to in order to get a tracheotomy procedure so he can go home, a leading pro-life advocate says releasing medical records is holding up the process.

The parents of the 13-month-old have been fighting a hospital that wants to remove his breathing tube.

Baby Joseph has been at  London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, in 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. A Superior Court judge in London, Ontario, last week, dismissed the request of the Canadian couple to overturn a decision requiring the removal of their baby’s breathing tube in a hospital instead of at home.

Baby Joseph’s parents want a tracheotomy performed on their son so they can take him off the respirator and bring him home to live his last days surrounded by family. The London hospital has refused to perform the procedure.

Leading pro-life and disability rights advocates have been helping the family to find an American hospital to transfer him to, but Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, tells that the failure by the hospital to release the records has been holding up any transfer.

“There are U.S. physicians in Michigan willing to oversee Baby Joseph’s outpatient care and assist in weaning him off the home ventilator should it be necessary,” he said today. “We have yet to find one facility that said it would not perform the tracheostomy on Baby Joseph.”

“The real problem is that health care providers in the U.S. need Baby Joseph’s medical records — but the Canadian authorities are refusing to release them,” he added. “We have recently discovered that Canadian law requires the hospital to release these records to Baby Joseph’s parents upon request. And to date, they have refused. This is what is preventing hospitals in the United States from being able to accept Baby Joseph. We need those medical records. And we need them now.”

“We are continuing our search for a hospital in the United States to take Baby Joseph, and they won’t do that without the records,” he said.

Father Pavone is asking for people to contact the Canadian authorities “so that a proper and humane solution to this problem can be found.”

Commenting on the case in general, Pavone added that Joseph “could die in the next couple of weeks if his breathing tube is removed as the hospital and the government intend.”

“Baby Joseph is only 13 months old and often has difficulty breathing on his own. He needs a procedure called a tracheostomy in order to go home and live under his parents’ care. However, the Canadian health care system is refusing to let the family take care of their son — even though hospitals in the United States have privately said that they would take Joseph in and give him the tracheostomy he needs to survive,” he explained. “U.S. doctors and hospitals who are now familiar with the case are appalled that Baby Joseph hadn’t received the tracheostomy 3 or 4 months ago rather than make the baby suffer all this time.”

“Baby Joseph’s parents are pleading with the world for a hospital with the courage to step forward and accept their son for evaluation and treatment. Priests For Life has even agreed to supply medical air transport to and from the facilities. We will support the cost of the hospitalization and after-care including nursing. Home ventilators have also been donated to maintain Baby Joseph if needed,” he continued.

A prominent pro-life legal group, the ACLJ, has moved into play to help the parents as has the family of Terri Schiavo.